UNFIXED is a multiplatform project that explores photography's relationship to ideas of ethnicity, culture and identity in contemporary art.



Entrance to UNFIXED exhibition 


23 October - 4 December 2010

Center for Contemporary Art (CBK) Dordrecht 

The Netherlands

In the UNFIXED exhibition a group of six international artists re-constructed and re-contextualized fixed versions of photographic history through their installations, found and vernacular images, sculpture, text and video. The simultaneously manipulative and elusive nature of photography plays an important role in the work of each of these artists and the approaches they take on issues relevant to postcolonialism.





Charif Benhelima (BE 1967)

Otobong Nkanga (FR 1974)

Keith Piper (UK 1960)

Naro Snackey (NL 1980)

Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (USA 1954)

Hank Willis Thomas (USA 1976)

 With his two related series, Branded (2003-2008) and Unbranded  (2005-2008), American artist Hank Willis Thomas makes sharp political and social comment on a history of representation of African Americans. Thomas utilizes the flat photographic language of modern advertising and subverts the original commercial intent by either adding imagery or deleting text, revealing and focusing attention to the commodification of African American culture and bodies.


Native American artist Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie’s work is guided by strong advocacy for visual sovereignty. As in her series Portraits Against Amnesia (2003), the blend of digital and manual collage reposition photographic portraits beyond traditional or official positions, reclaiming sovereignty over self-representation. UNFIXED marked the first time the work of Thomas and Tsinhnahjinnie was exhibited in Netherlands.


British artist Keith Piper has used photography to re-collect representational memories and objects from Britain’s anthropological and colonial histories. UNFIXED included a piece of Piper’s groundbreaking interactive digital work Fictions of Science (1996) and the ‘cut and mix’ video Go West Young Man (1997), both of which are indicative of his continuous restaging of historical (systems of) information and critique of Western political attitudes towards their own colonial histories.


Nigerian born artist, Otobong Nkanga, explores performative and associative aspects of photography, reflecting on notions of memory and space. In her work, Alterscape Stories: Uprooting the past(2006), Nkanaga places herself within the photographic frame. In Memories of a Landscape, created especially for UNFIXED, viewers were initially presented with photographs drawn from the same location as Uprooting the past . But moving around the corner, one could enter a passageway to inner space covered with Nkanga’s writings and drawings of facts, stories, memories and associations relating to the image. 


Dutch artist Naro Snackey's installation, developed especially for UNFIXED, expressed the fragility of history. To create the work Snackey appropriated photographs from genealogical websites as the base for life-size three-dimensional reconstructions. The sculptures explore notions of familiarity, strangeness, migration and Snackey’s Indonesian heritage.


With a background in documentary photography, Belgian artist Charif Benhelima’s recent work reverses some of the traditional suppositions of documentary. Instead of providing a wealth of indexical information, the content in his images becomes almost invisble, creating a tension between the visual document as proof and the imagination of the viewer. In the installation Semites (2003-2005), a series of overexposed Polaroids of re-photographed (family) portraits, Benhelima creates a poetic visual abstraction in which he questions his origin and identity.


Article on UNFIXED from Kunstbeeld Magazine (#11 2010 in Dutch)

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Unfixed Nieuws

The UNFIXED book can be ordered through Jap Sam Books.


all rights reserved 2010 unfixed projects - graphic design yvonne van versendaal | technical development by greenlight