CO-OP Insights: Dead Darlings

by Unseen September 15 2017

At Unseen Amsterdam 2017, we are excited to present a brand new programme element. Unseen CO-OP brings together 13 exciting artist collectives from around the world, who will present projects specifically made for Unseen Amsterdam. Each week, we talk to a collective to find out more about who they are, what they do, and how they work.

For this week’s CO-OP Insights, we are delighted to introduce you to the work of Amsterdam-based Dead Darlings, a collective that organises art auctions to explore the complex relationship between artists, artworks and collectors. Artists are approached to present a ‘dead darling’ – a work that has never come to light outside of their studio. The piece is auctioned off with a low starting bid, extending the label of ‘art collector’ to those who are usually unable to obtain original contemporary works.

What is the main reason you formed the collective?
We wanted to form a collective to bring something ‘unseen’ out into the public. Our philosophy is grounded in featuring established and museum-level artists alongside up-and-coming or obscure artists. We reflect on particular works, challenging notions of value, demand, desirability and commerce, which requires collective discussion.

Saturday 2.jpgWhat sets you apart from other collectives?
In addition to inviting artists to reflect on their own process and helping their dead darlings come back to life, we also aim to extend the label of ‘art collector’ to people who would not otherwise be able to afford original contemporary artworks. Our events combine elements of performance and exhibition. Our focus is on artefacts whose value is ambiguous: Dead Darlings. This refers to a work by an artist that has, for any variety of reasons, not been brought to light. The name Dead Darlings was inspired by the phrase “kill your darlings”, something that we were so often advised to do in art school and later had to learn to do ourselves as artists.

Could you give us an insight into what you have in store for Unseen CO-OP 2017?
In the mini-edition of our project during Unseen, we have the opportunity to be a little more experimental and explore some new ideas, playing around with a slightly different structure than one of our typical auctions. Instead of an open call, we are inviting 15 interesting artists to provide us with a photograph – but none of these artists are photographers. It will be interesting to see how people who are established artists in their respective fields will approach making or selecting a photograph as a work of art.

Don't miss the live auction on the 23 September 17.00 - 18.30. More information here

See all of the exhibiting CO-OP collectives here