Seeing together!: ​Unseen CO-OP

by Unseen June 01 2017

For this year’s edition, Unseen Amsterdam is thrilled to introduce a new, dynamic and interactive element to its platform; CO-OP, a space exclusively dedicated to the work of cutting edge, artist collectives and artist-run initiatives from all over the world. CO-OP will take place inside the Transformatorhuis at Westergasfabriek, which will be remodeled to create a lively and inspiring social hub for exploring pioneering works of art as well as experimenting with new formats of art commerce.

In an exceptional display-structure inspired by the concept of the agorà (a place of assembly in ancient Greece serving as a marketplace where both ideas and artefacts can be discussed and exchanged), thirteen international collectives, selected by the independent curator Lars Willumeit and Unseen Artistic Director Emilia van Lynden, will constitute this inaugural edition of CO-OP.

Some key qualities that identify the spirit of this innovative section of Unseen are cooperative, collaboration, and interaction: collectives are invited to exhibit their work and furthermore to set up new commercial strategies as possible ways to interact with their audience. With the cooperation of collectives and spectators, the place will become a massive meta-collective in itself.

The creation of this new element into the fair programme underlines Unseen’s engagement in stimulating collaboration between artists and the need for innovative and unconventional approaches to art commerce, in order to support more sustainable careers for artists and collectives.

CO-OP 2017 has invited:
Britto Arts Trust (Bangladesh)
Colectivo +1 (Colombia)
Dead Darlings (The Netherlands)
DER GREIF (Germany)
GUSH (Belgium)
Huber.Huber (Switzerland)
Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt (Sweden)
LIVE WILD (France)
Nepal Picture Library (Nepal)
POIUYT (Italy)
Radical Reversibility (The Netherlands)
Ruang MES56 (Indonesia)
Tendance Floue (France)

Britto Arts Trust
Based in Dhaka, since 2002 it has been the first autonomous, artists’ led, non-profit art organisation in Bangladesh. The trust’s activity focuses on supporting experimentation and new approaches to visual arts, and setting up a large and sustainable hub for creative and interdisciplinary artworks in Bangladesh, with residencies, workshops, talks, screenings, and projects. At the CO-OP they will be exhibiting the work of Munem Wasif, Najmun Nahar Keya, Shimul Saha, Manir Mrittik, and Molla Sagar.

Colectivo +1
Founded in 2013 by five Colombian photographers in Bogotà, the spirit of this collective is to seek out and encourage collaborations with other collectives and organisations, that it where the ‘plus one’ stands for. For CO-OP, Colectivo+1 will show “2 0FOTOGRAFOS ”, an innovative and impactful workshop realised in Mexico in 2016 in which students have been encouraged to develop strong interpersonal and collaborative relationships working with photo editors, instructors, producers, and experts.

Dead Darlings
This Dutch collective, based in Amsterdam, uses art auctions as a platform to explore the complex relationship between the artist, the artwork, and the collector, combining elements of performance and exhibition. A selection of artists is encouraged to dig in their archives searching for their “dead darling”, a work that has never come to light. The selected piece is auctioned with a low starting price, in order “to extend the label of art collector to people who would not otherwise be able to obtain an original contemporary artwork”.

This German platform embraces contemporary photography as a printed publication, a blog and a curatorial team presenting the work of photographers and authors of different origins in a holistic piece of art. Focussed on expanding the limits of image-distribution, Der Greif is involved in contemporary issues like the perception of the authorship, the recontextualisation of images and the rise of remix culture. For CO-OP they will create an interactive online and offline exhibition combining curatorial, performative and photographic practices.

Created by four international artists based in Brussels, GUSH Collective questions the idea of uniqueness and authenticity of photography in itself. For CO-OP they will build up a multilayered exhibition combining the installation of meta-photographs, an artist’s studio, catalogues and an audioguide.

The twin brothers Markus and Reto Huber have been working together under this label since 2005. Their work (collages, drawings, and sculptural installation) focusses on the relation between civilisation and nature. At CO-OP they will pursue their research with an exhibition about the ambivalent relationship of modernity with science, faith and art.

Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt
Based in Stockholm, they have been working together since 2005 on themes such as depiction and perception of political events through media channels in order to draw attention to the gap between what is visible and what it told. They also have a publishing platform called B-B-B-Books. For CO-OP they will show a new piece of work that is a continuation of the ongoing series Wikiland.

The house arrest of Julian Assange, Norfolk, England, 24-25 February 2011, from the series Wikiland, 2011  Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt_0.jpg
The house arrest of Julian Assange, Norfolk, England, 24-25 February 2011, from the series Wikiland, 2011 © Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt 

Seven young international female artists are the heart and soul of this French collective. Born in 2014, they break away from the scene of contemporary art with their website, collages, gif, videos and photography combining various styles with a similar aesthetic and bringing the spectator into a fairy tale world of visual imagery.
For CO-OP they will welcome the audience in an intimate space, offering a complete immersion into their visual world.

Nepal Picture Library
As a digital photo archive, its aim is to document the history of Nepali culture and society, collecting vernacular photographs and stories from the community. Since its inception in 2011, the archive has collected over 50,000 photographs from different parts of Nepal. This year at CO-OP, the NPL will exhibit works that trace the history and evolution of the Nepali studio photography practice and where it stands today.

Bringing together relevant exponents of the Italian contemporary photographic scene, this newborn platform questions any given reality and the unconditional acceptance of the status quo, exploring the structure and the mechanism of power and social systems. POIUYT consists of The Cool Couple, Discipula and Alessandro Sambini under the curatorial direction of Gaia Tedone and Francesca Lazzarin. For CO-OP they will combine graphic and textual elements related to POIUYT, creating an image which elaborates the key concepts of the project.

Radical Reversibility
This newborn collective will be launched at Unseen CO-OP 2017.
As a research collective, it questions the Western lens-based culture and the anthropocentric perception of social values, trying to reverse our visual experience. Radical Reversibility consists of Martine Stig, the artistic duo Elodie Hiryczuk/Sjoerd Van Oevelen, and Frank van der Stok guesting Stephen Keppel and graphic designer Hans Gremmen. For CO-OP it will show the work as “a floating object in reverse” in order to experiment with alternative displays, inviting the audience to exchange thoughts and ideas being an open and dynamic platform.

Videostill from Project Vertigo, from the series Profiles, 2017 c Martine Stig_0.jpgVideostill from Project Vertigo, from the series Profiles, 2017 © Martine Stig

Ruang MES56
Born in 2002 in the living room of the boarding house of photography art students in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Ruang MES56 is now a non-profit institution that functions as a production laboratory and ideas incubator. They work cooperatively with the community: their mission is to develop contemporary art and visual culture in the Southeast Asia region through educational programmes, workshops, residencies and interdisciplinary projects. For CO-OP, they will exhibit a new platform combining an installation, a performance and a video battle.

Tendance Floue
Created in 1991, Tendance Floue is a French collective of fourteen photographers. They question photojournalistic tendencies in a way to renew the field of narration. Beyond their individual approaches, the photographers have joined forces within a common book production. Their creation becomes almost a performance, comparing pictures, searching for combinations and interpreting stories in novel ways. At Unseen CO-OP they will specifically focus on books, never exhibited together before, putting the layouts up on the wall in a lively and interactive manner and sharing it with the public.

Photo: Alhamdulillah We Made It, 2015 © Hani.A.Musa/RUANG MES 56