It’s six years since the inaugural edition of Unseen Amsterdam arrived with the mission to shake up the art fair model, focusing on emerging photographers and collectors, and instilling a welcome dose of fun to proceedings. And despite its beginnings during difficult times for arts funding, the ‘fair with a festival flair’ has largely succeeded, developing into something more ambitious than a glorified trade show, with its own public programme and a city-wide celebration of the medium in one of the world’s great photography capitals.
The emphasis remains on championing new talent, and with this in mind, the latest addition to Unseen is Futures, a cross-European photography platform bringing together 10 cultural institutions from around the continent, each with their own talent programmes.
Between 1960 and 1997, the idyllic Italian island of Sardinia witnessed a series of kidnappings at the hands of the anonima sequestri sarda – a group of vigilantes meting out justice according to a traditional, local code of honour known as the codice barbaricino. Over 37 years, 162 people were kidnapped for ransom, with some of them killed. The kidnapping of seven-year-old Farouk Kassam in 1992 is particularly vivid for Sardinian-born-and-raised Valeria Cherchi, who was the same age at the time. The case instilled in her a profound fear. “I clearly remember the news, during his fifth month of imprisonment, that the upper part of his ear was found by a priest on a mountainous road in Barbagia, central Sardinia,” she recalls.
BJP has joined forces with 10 cultural institutions across Europe to promote emerging photography talent under the umbrella of a new photography network, named Futures. Initiated by Unseen Amsterdam and the fair’s owner, Vandejong Creative Agency, the platform launched in spring and continues with a series of shows, events and residencies across the continent, culminating in a large-scale exhibition at Unseen in September. The partners include museums and galleries in Hungary, Belgium and Italy, alongside photofestivals in France, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Romania. Each will present shows and events of their own talent programmes in their own countries, and then elements of these events will come together for the collaborative exhibition in Amsterdam, showcasing 10 emerging photographers from across the continent – a pick from each country. “We realised that we could do more to create opportunities for artists, and that is where we came up with Futures,” explains Menno Liauw, strategy director at Vandejong, which is coordinating activities, having created the platform in the mould of Unseen, the first art fair of its kind, …
Alighting at Peckham Rye train station in south London, a short walk across a busy market street takes you to the Bussey Building complex, a former cricket-bat factory that is now home to an assortment of bars, music venues, yoga studios and art spaces, including the Copeland Gallery. This bright exhibition space is once again the main site of Peckham 24 festival of contemporary photography, celebrating its third edition this year and running over the weekend of 18 to 20 May to coincide with Photo London – more than the 24 hours with which it launched and gave it its name. “Last year we were literally pushing people out of the door at midnight,” laugh the co-founders, Vivienne Gamble, whose Seen Fifteen gallery is in a nearby space, and artist Jo Dennis.