Unseen magazine is the biannual publishing extension of Unseen Platform based in Amsterdam. Its philosophy is to enrich a two-way conversation between contemporary photographic art and its audiences, and is full of in-depth stories that strike a balance between image and words, focusing on the ‘unseen’ journey from idea to artwork.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with the feature ‘Artists Obsessions’, in which photographs of five collections offer a window into the mind of five artists. Eva Stenram’s collection of vintage men’s magazines (above), mostly from around the 1960s, feature classic ‘pin-up’ cover stars and all have suggestive titles like Frolic, Caper, and Cavalcade.
What’s interesting is the way she describes the fact that many of them had sports sections at the back with photos of competitive men, which led to collecting boxing magazines from the same era, like Boxing Illustrated or The Ring, which have altogether more homoerotic undertones. It’s this crossover between sports and sex that, for Stenram, represents ‘a hedonistic rupture of societal norms, which at the same time masks a reiteration of conventional gender roles’.
In ‘How Books Begin’ (above), Daria Tuminas breaks down the process of creating a photo book, ‘perhaps the ultimate container for a complete project’ and takes us through the process of creating a dummy – an experimental test copy that serves as the prototype for a prospective publication.
It’s not only an interesting part of the process – in-between design and publication when more tactile questions are taken into consideration – but also serves as a bit of a guide for anyone thinking about making their own photobook for the first time.
A sci-fi essay from Zoë Corbyn, ‘Quarrying the Heavens’ blends futurism and space travel with images from Ezio D’Agostino’s NEOs project (above). I’m none the wiser about the photo project having read it, but certainly have a new perspective on asteroid mining, which was not what I expected when opening up this magazine.
The last piece is an insightful essay by Liz Sales about the way that artists mostly get it wrong when writing about their own work, even if they’re good writers (above). It’s well worth a read, even if just to make you think a little more about that accompanying text next time you’re at an exhibition. She does name a few photographers that do write well about their work, some even in book form, which are now being hastily added to my reading list.
It’s interesting that I’ve picked out only features in the latter half of the magazine to write about, where the content shifts away from pure photography and a literal interpretation of the magazine’s theme, and gets a little more tangential. I find myself questioning whether or not the ‘journey from idea to artwork’ is quite as unseen as the editors would have us believe, considering that most of the artists I follow on Instagram (the most visual of all the social media platforms) share their process regularly, and ‘seeing the artists’ studio’ doesn’t feel very uncommon.
Nevertheless, translating this idea into a magazine, which a focus on diverse global content and varying formats is not an easy task and it’s been done well here. Many of the features are surprising and overall there is a focus on well researched and written stories that back up the concept, and a design dynamic that strikes a good balance between words and photography.
Editor-in-chief: Emilia van Lynden
Editor: George H.King
Art direction & design: Vandejong Creative Agency