Home Magazine MeetMe#15 | In conversation with Marina Paulenka

There is a brand new face at the realm of Unseen Amsterdam, one of the most important events related to photography. We are of course talking about Marina Paulenka, who was appointed Artistic Director in succession to Emilia van Lynden, ready to bring her extensive experience as the head of the Organ Vida International Photography Festival in Zagreb, Croatia. In charge of several projects related to the Unseen brand, Paulenka will continue the event’s eight-year legacy in providing an important platform for young and established contemporary photographers alike to show their high-quality works.

Between September 20th and 22nd this year, Unseen Amsterdam will be gathering 53 participating galleries showing some 300 artists at Westergas. But apart from the fair program itself, the visitors will also be able to enjoy On-Site Projects, featuring works of talented Dutch students from three esteemed academies, as well as a screening of new artwork by the Charles Goes Arles collective and the Docking Station photography platform. As part of The Living Room, the three-day speakers program, there will be lectures, interviews and panel discussions as well, examining the state of photography today. Photobook lovers, make sure you don’t miss The Book Market, in 2019 presenting more than 70 independent international publishers and distributors, who will be organizing book launches and signings on the spot. Last but not least, as every year some 15 of Amsterdam's art and culture institutions will be joining the celebrations of the photographic medium by staging thematic exhibitions discounted for Unseen goers.

Find more out about the latest contemporary art fairs together with their protagonist on the new magazine area MeetMe!

What more can we expect from Unseen Amsterdam 2019? Find out from its newly-appointed director, Marina Paulenka!


Marina Paulenka by Borko Vukosav


You have just joined unseen as the new Artistic Director. Have you already recognize the challenges ahead?

I’m so thrilled to have joined the Unseen team, which is an inspiring platform developing and growing all the time. Unseen Amsterdam (taking place 20 – 22nd September) consists of two seemingly opposite components which coexist with and complement each other – a fair and a festival. One of the challenges is balancing the needs of artists and other industry players such as galleries, curators, critics, collectors. The market is changing––as is photography as a medium as well––and Unseen needs to reflect and adjust to this to ensure it is on the right path and able to continue putting artists first.

Throughout this transition period, I am most excited about getting to know the team better and experiencing Unseen first hand to see how all of the moving parts come together at the event. I’m doing a lot of research so I can have a comprehensive overview of all the Unseen projects and what is necessary for future development and strategy. This will be a strong base for creating a new artistic vision.

As someone with a brand new set of eyes, what would you say are the highlights of the upcoming Unseen Amsterdam?

I’m really looking forward to celebrating a new edition of the fair with my team and all the visitors! Unseen has so many different projects and elements, and I am excited to see it all come together.If I had to highlight something, I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to an exhibition of Tabita Rezaire, a French-born Guyanese/Danish artist whose work navigates architectures of power – both on and offline. Her work tackles the pervasive matrix of colonialism and its effects on identity, technology, sexuality, health and spirituality.

Additionally, this year, our acclaimed talks programme Living Room will be organised in collaboration with the London-based V&A museum and LagosPhoto, one of Africa’s first international photography festivals, where we will explore the impact of curation and collection through two panels. The aim is to critically engage with the impact and responsibilities of institutions, curators and collectors through discussions.We are also now focused on presenting our audience the newly established Unseen Foundation, which is an independent nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage new and innovative ways of supporting the vital relationship between artists and their communities through exhibitions, discursive program, awards, and much more.

From your experience, why is it important that a photography event like this one has a rich accompanying program, and what can we expect from Unseen’s?

It is important to have many different voices and curatorial approaches. This is important for Unseen because it operates on the frontline of innovative and current photographic practice. Awareness of the world we live in, sensitivity to personal, social and political issues as well as being challenging themes, within our rich programme are essential for developing the future of the photographic realm.It is important to be aware of a huge responsibility that we, as creators of such events, have.


Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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