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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – Unseen, Amsterdam – Photo Pleasure Palace

The Photo Pleasure Palace at Unseen was an installation/exhibition curated by Erik Kessels and Thomas Mailaender. The aim was to actively engage and encourage the viewer to interact with photography in a playful and completely different way. Both of these artists are known for the re-appropriation of images.  Their work leans towards the absurd and the Photo Pleasure Palace reflects this style. It has the feel of a carnival. Even the catalogue for the exhibition was presented in a fun way via a dispensing machine.


The installation has a ‘Photo Fortune Teller’ and a ‘Giant Peephole’.  Other activities included the ‘Smash Gallery’, ‘Toilet Obscura’ and ‘Jump Trump”.

‘Jump Trump’

This activity encourages visitors to jump or fall onto a picture of Trump’s face.

‘Smash Gallery’

This activity invited visitors to throw 3 pieces of wood at an expansive gallery wall with photographs placed randomly on it.  The idea was that the wood should smash the glass on the image.  If that happened, you ‘won’ the image and it was sealed in it’s broken frame in a vacuum pack ready to take home.

I have never been very good at throwing or aiming at things but decided to have a go. A peer gave me his blocks too.  I was aiming for a photograph that looked very much like him.  To my surprise, I smashed the glass on that image with the second shot and then smashed the glass on another with the fourth shot.  I gave the image that looked like my friend to him. It was such a high to smash the glass on images in front of a huge crowd.

My visit to the Photo Pleasure Palace did indeed get me excited and involved with photography in a different way.  I take my hat off to the curators and salute their vision and execution of such a fun and interesting way of experiencing photography.

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