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Online voting for the ING Unseen Talent Award 2018 is open! The ING Unseen Talent Award encourages emerging artists to explore the boundaries of contemporary photography and helps them kick-start their career. It introduces the finalists to extensive networks, providing support from experts and opportunities to exchange ideas with photography professionals.

This year's finalists are Dávid Biró (1992, HU), Jaakko Kahilaniemi (1989, FI), Pauline Niks (1982, NL), Eva O’Leary (1989, IE) and Alexey Shlyk (1986, BY). Over the past few months, the internationally established British installation artist, filmmaker and photographer Isaac Julien has mentored the five finalists. Under his supervision, the selected artists created new work within the theme New Horizons: Exploring the promise and perils of the future.

An international jury consisting of Chris Bedson (Senior Art Director, Calvin Klein), Emma Bowkett (Director of Photography, FT Weekend Magazine), Florian Ebner (Chief of Photography, Centre Pompidou), Fiona Tan (internationally renowned visual artist and filmmaker) and Sanne ten Brink (Head Curator, ING Collection) will decide on this year’s winner, who will receive a production fund of €10,000. In addition to the Jury Winner, a Public Winner will be determined through our online voting system – available below – and will receive a commission to create an artwork for the ING Collection. Both winners will be announced at the ING Unseen Talent Award Ceremony during the official opening night of Unseen Amsterdam on the 20th of September 2018. Amongst the voters, five will receive a goodie bag, with an Unseen Magazine and ING Art Collection catalogue. Scroll below to view the work of this year’s finalists and to read about what inspired their artistic process!

This year at Unseen Amsterdam, all ING debit cardholders receive a €5 discount on day tickets! Get yours now

Dávid Biró
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Artist Statement:
"The rapid rise of digital technology—now a key part of everyday life—has led to a number of challenges in our contemporary life. Whilst dream-like scenes created through technology have become increasingly convincing, it is harder to distinguish our conventional understanding of the “real” from new digital realities. This weight of information forces us to sharpen our perceptions in order to avoid digital distraction. For my project, I have constructed a series of photographic images inspired by the visuals of 3D graphics and video games. With their uncertain orientations, a question emerges as to whether what we see represents reality or is merely computer-generated."

Pauline Niks
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Artist Statement:
"A Free Man is about home-made firearms, the liberty to share information and the freedom to make what you want to make. It all started with an article about Cody Wilson, founder of the organisation Defence Distributed. Wilson wants to gain the ultimate freedom to share information, just as Assange and Snowden once did. To reach his goal he makes it possible for people to print their own 3D guns using plans that they can download online. He chose to share the plans for printing guns because this was an easy way to grab people’s attention for his ideas.

For the ING Unseen Talent Award, I visited different people that make their own weapons. Each individual had their own vision on how this contributes to their freedom. The project deals with the fear of – and liberation from – those who hold power."

Alexey Shlyk
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Artist Statement:
"In this series, I explore human creativity in the sphere of sustainable inventions. With an unceasing increase in the consumption of natural resources, pollution and global warming, our future might not be quite as bright as one would hope. Plastic continues to spread over the surface of the earth, polluting every corner of its oceans and landscapes. Preparing for the worst, I stage alternative solutions for renewable energy, various DIY-solutions that may (or may not) help humans to survive in the ‘plastic age’ we have become all too familiar with."

 

Jaakko Kahilaniemi
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Artist Statement:
"With Nature Like Capital, I set out to visualise the complex and contradictory relationship between man and nature, reflecting on the manner in which mankind is part of the natural circle of things. My work attempts to make peace between humans and nature in some way, despite my awareness of the impossibility of this task.

I approach my subject with an open-minded playfulness, and my photographs often serve as evidence of the visual research I conduct. I am drawn to places where the radical interference of people or of natural forces are visible—be it a plantation of trees or the aftermath of a forest fire. I want to present my ideas with a certain directness, but always with some visual secrets that challenge the viewer to consider the broader context of the work."

Eva O'Leary
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Artist Statement:
"Growing up between Pennsylvania and Ireland, my sense of identity was tested twice a year as I was forced to acclimate to a new culture. Today, much of my work questions what is deemed acceptable or natural within a particular community, and how these agreed upon norms often function as a method of social control.

These images, made in rural Pennsylvania, bring together a digital world of consumption and surveillance with the physical space, rooted in the absurdity and terror of late capitalism. I wanted to make unsettling photographs of a culture that is both uncomfortable and familiar—fear of the future is palpable here— through extreme alcohol consumption, conspicuous wealth, incredible debt and violence."