Sun 20th September
We passed the fourth Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam and it was a second one that I have taken part in. Unseen is one of those fairs that are very manageable in size and this fact allows it to function more as a community directed festival. It thus brings a great range of shows, supporting freshness of photographic approaches and it supports thinking about future of photographic states. Unseen Living-room as part of the fair offered cosy and lively space for photographic discussions which are always of a great interest of many festival visitors. The Unseen book fair seemed a little bit smaller then what I saw two years ago, perhaps because of the different location which might have given me that impression. However I felt that what was missing from the book fair were tables of smaller publishing houses and / or self-publishers themselves, who I have seen in larger number at Unseen 2013. The good surprise was that this photographic madness I was waiting for whole summer, now also spreads across my favorite city in multiple venues.
I went to check out the open studio exhibition - It's just love by Sophie Ebrard. If you don't know her work - you should. The exhibition took place in the photographer's own flat, located around 10 minutes walk from the main Unseen festival area- just by the canal; the day was nice, the sun was shining. I rang the doorbell, walked in and it felt like REAL home. Instead of paintings of flowers and sunsets on the walls I saw photographs taken on porn sets- but hey, they were so beautiful! The whole place smelled like candles, the lights were cosy, french love songs were playing in the background. All those elements created a friendly and intimate environment. Not that kind of environment that one would associate with pornography - porn-photography. Can we even give Ebrard's images that label? The temperature in the space was t-shirt approved. I felt welcome and not rushed to leave. The beautiful images were soft and friendly, almost inviting. What's most important it did not hold a heavy weight that is often associated with representation of porn business. The large scale prints with light-colored frames embraced walls of the living room made a perfect sense with accompanied sounds track and audio recordings available through installed headphones. The room was filled with love props - love phone, love sofa in the centre of the living room, stuffed animals and plants. The fact that It's just love was shown at Ebrard's home was a good comment on pornography's taboo status. Thus porn films are mainly watched in the enclave of home away from the public eye. The fact that the show was on in Amsterdam - Europe's sin city highlighted that characteristic and added new layers to how we read those photographs. All of those listed elements made me stay and watch those 10 prints for more then 40 minutes.