CO-OP: Collectives Revealed

by Unseen June 28 2018

We are very excited to announce the twelve collectives participating in this year’s edition of CO-OP at Unseen Amsterdam. CO-OP is entirely devoted to artist-run initiatives and collectives, enabling them to show their latest work, in dynamic presentations and new commercial formats. Recognising the significance of artists who unite to make and show work; this edition examines themes such as authorship, mass tourism, migrant stereotyping and education. Together with CO-OP’s curator Lars Willumeit, Unseen has selected twelve international collectives to launch the second edition of Unseen CO-OP.

Composed of 12 artists from several different countries, the Austrian based collective 280A discusses the significance of the collective in times of individualisation. The individual position of the artists is merged into their collective representation. They reflect on questions of authorship, creating highly fragmented works, experimenting with collages and digital photography. The group explores the concepts of sentimentality and emotionality, in times of virtualisation and reduction of surfaces.

Created by the German artists Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber in 2006, Böhm Kobayashi explores several photographic concepts and techniques, such as installation, video and photography books. The project Japanese Lesson started with the artists’ three months grant in Osaka, Japan (2006), where they focused on portraits of Japanese subculture and impressions of Japanese street life. Japanese Lesson reflects on the process of learning about Japanese culture, but in unconventional ways that do not necessarily involve the knowledge of Japanese language. The current chapter of Japanese Lesson deals with questions of political landscape, borders and Identity.

Depression Era is based in Athens and is composed of 25 artists. Formed in 2011, the group works with socio-economic criticism and strong political statements. Through ironic images, the project The Tourists presents a subversive tourism campaign. It refers to the current wave of refugees, the mass migration from Asia and Africa to Greece, and the simultaneous increase of tourism in the Mediterranean. The collective proposes another perspective of the tourist figure, posing it as a simulator of social involvement.

Based in Milan and consisting of three Italian artists, Fotoromanzo Italiano works as a photo laboratory, pushing the boundaries of the photo novel genre—once a vivid element of Italian imagery culture. The collective aims to reinvent the photo novel practices by exploring the mix of text and image, adding a contemporary touch to the narratives and photography techniques.

Based in Barcelona, Imagenred  was formed in 2017 and consists of seven artists. It is a project with a collaborative, transversal and pedagogical profile. The group proposes visual action and the study of image in its context. They stimulate critical thinking among young people by providing workshops in schools. The programme offers ideas for activities and meetings around the current debates on photography.

KLAYM is not only a collective but also an independent association founded in 2015. With an extensive team of photographers, journalists and designers, the collective promotes an interface between young creatives from African countries and international clientele/audiences. They stimulate artistic production, debate and education in Africa. Among many projects is the production of Nice Magazine, a publication dedicated to connecting artists and promoting their works.

The London-based collective is formed by seven artists of different nationalities and explores the many artistic possibilities brought by their diverse backgrounds. They provide a forum for anyone interested in new photographic methods and alternative photography ideas and processes. Accessibility and experimentation are the foundation of the conceptual proposals of London Alternative.

(Music for) Eggplant challenges the traditional notions of authorship by always producing works in collaboration. Their work involves a combination of video, live stream images and sound. In their core conceptual frame is music improvisation, nonsense sounds and musical density.

The Migrant Image Research Group consists of 12 members, among them are illustrators, photographers, artists, photography historians, graphic designers and publishers. The project of the Migrant Image Research Group questions already existing images of migrants by finding other images and representing new ways of telling their stories. Their goal is to explore the images and portrayals of migration circulating in the media and collect testimonies far from the mass media stereotypes.

Tokyo Photographic Research is a research-based project that approaches contemporary photographic technique and debate through a multidisciplinary proposal. The group aims to portrait Tokyo's current landscape before the Olympic Games, through the perspectives of several artists. The project focuses on artists who address modern technology, image culture and media environment from a critical point of view, proposing to build an unconventional photographic archive for the city of Tokyo.

Upominki is a collective as well as a non-profit project space founded in 2012. The group explores the ways in which the individual artistic vision challenges that of the curator. They promote interdisciplinary dialogue and enrichment of photographic material treatment. Upominki is interested in the multiple relationships built throughout their creative processes and wishes to stimulate people’s awareness for new artistic possibilities.

Yaounde Photo Network is an independent Cameroonian initiative dedicated to photography and lens-based art. The platform, consisting of several artists, was created in 2016 with the aim to support and showcase the work of Cameroonian artists, locally based photographers, and video artists. They assist photographers in achieving levels of viability and sustainability, and aim to foster collaborations between artists in Cameroon, Africa and beyond.

Feature Image: CO-OP, Unseen Amsterdam, 2017 © Maarten Nauw