Each year Unseen invites a variety of leading figures from the art world to shed light on what is currently taking place within the realm of contemporary photography. The Unseen Living Room offers photography lovers the chance to explore the most recent developments in the industry as they happen. In the open and informal atmosphere of the Westergasfabriek terrain, visitors are able to enjoy a variety of in-depth lectures, symposia, panel discussions, artists’ presentations, and workshops. For its fifth edition, Unseen promises yet another exciting programme, jam-packed with stimulating and innovative topics. Read on for a taste of this year’s events!
Performing the Self
We are increasingly faced with the circulation of images and information, a phenomenon that is dominating digital culture and therefore everyday reality. We also find ourselves in a constant state of performance, incited by social media networks, which continuously emphasise self-promotion online. These digital developments bring a sense of mystery, particularly as the line between private and public is increasingly blurred and individuals move easily between personal identities and more heterogeneous appearances. As we encounter images, we are often left wondering where they came from and where they are going. Performing the Self investigates how we might reflect on these realities in the world of photography.
Platforms in Africa
Over the past few decades, many artists of the African diaspora and voices from the African art sector have started to question the modes of presentation and representation within the arts. Simultaneously, the global art world is opening up to creative communities and initiatives from Africa as curators and artists alike steadily turn to the continent for new innovative ideas. This year Unseen invites key figures from a range of platforms in Africa for a roundtable discussion. These guests strive to further develop Africa’s own voice and aesthetics to create sustainable art communities, educate young and emerging talents and to engage local audiences with contemporary art practices. Platforms in Africa will explore the birth of a number of independent contemporary art platforms across Africa that have emerged in recent years.
Life After Graduation
The presentation of emerging photography talent is one of the main objectives of Unseen. But how does a recent graduate achieve that desired ‘talent label' to kick-start a career as a professional visual artist? It is, of course, not just a matter of talent, but also of getting noticed and selected by the right platforms. Unseen invites four artists to share the tips and tricks, decisive moments, important decisions and crucial mentors from their journeys after graduation. What dynamics were at play in the development of their artistic career after graduating? What comes after the ‘young talent’ phase? What should young artists demand for themselves and what concessions should they be prepared to make?
The Future of the Photographic Portrait
A photographic portrait is often considered the most traditional way of representing an individual and the most common way of capturing someone’s identity. But both the portrait and the concept of identity are, to a large extent, artificial constructs. This has become clearer in the digital age, in which notions of identity and self-representation have become increasingly complex. Platforms in Africa will explore the awareness of mechanisms of social media and the effects on classical portraiture during a discussion with image creators. Is there still a future for traditional portraiture?
Craftsmanship in Photography
‘Today, everyone can be a photographer’ is a commonly heard phrase. It hints at the fact that the tools for taking photographs are now accessible to more people than ever before. As a result, millions of often randomly generated pictures are produced and shared every day. In response, the last couple of years has seen the birth of a countermovement amongst many visual artists who acknowledge the importance of craftsmanship, authenticity and being able to apply old-fashioned analogue processes in a contemporary context. Often these processes result in unique, interesting bodies of work with a different aesthetic to the type of generic images that can be reproduced endlessly. Craftsmanship in Photography explores the dynamics of this countermovement.
See the full Unseen Living Room programme here.