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*Unseen Amsterdam, 2017. Photo: Iris Duvekot/Unseen Amsterdam.

Dutch Photography Fair Unseen Amsterdam Declares Bankruptcy

Unseen Amsterdam—the annual photography fair that has been held in the Westergasfabriek, a former gasworks factory turned cultural venue, in the Dutch capital since 2012—is bankrupt. According to de Volkskrant, two other branches of the platform Unseen—Unseen magazine and its international arm, which partners with organizations across the globe on various programming related to the photographic medium—are also bankrupt. The Unseen Foundation, an independent charity, is apparently the only entity of Unseen that is not struggling financially.

The news comes as somewhat of a surprise since the previous edition of Unseen Amsterdam was successful. It drew about 25,000 visitors and featured presentations from more than fifty galleries. In an interview with RTL Z, the fair’s managing director, Caroline van Leuven, also described the bankruptcy as “shocking” and added that the staff “fought hard to prevent it.” Commenting on the event’s budget, she said: “Unseen looks great, but costs a lot of money. In the end, not enough money went into covering all the costs.”

Unseen was founded by the photography museum Foam and two Amsterdam-based agencies, Vandejong Creative Agency and Platform A. Menno Liauw, a director at Vandejong, told de Volkskrant that that they recently invested heavily into Unseen’s digital presence. He also cited two hurdles in 2017 that led to a significant loss of funds for the fair. Foam parted ways with Unseen, and two longtime backers, BankGiro Loterij and Blockbusterfonds, pulled their support.

Angelina Bakker of the legal firm Dentons said that the fair is currently holding discussions with potential sponsors, but could not comment further at this time. Whether the ninth edition, which is slated to take place from September 18 to September 20, will still be held is uncertain. 

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