Viviane Sassen

Viviane Sassen’s oeuvre stretches from fashion and fine art, to the use of geometric shapes and disturbing abstractions of bodies. Born in Amsterdam in 1972, Viviane spent a formative childhood in Kenya from the age of 2-5, a time which influenced her later work. She first studied fashion but soon switched to photography when she realised her interests lay behind the lens, eventually going on to complete a Masters degree in fine art from Ateliers Arnhem.

In the 2000’s, Viviane became received international acclaim for her two series, “Flamboya” and “Parasomnia”. Flamboya brings together photos from various trips to Africa, where she returned for the first time at the age of 29. The series includes portraits she created in collaboration with subjects, some spontaneous and others staged, often in surreal and abstract poses.

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Parasomnia realises feelings of dislocation between home and away that rose from feelings of alienation towards her home country, The Netherlands, and the awareness that she was also an outsider in Africa. She explores the theme of parasomnia, a sleep disorder in which a person has strange dreams, behaviours, and movements, as a vehicle for animating these feelings of dislocation between home and away.

Her work often features anonymous subjects, sometimes contracted or intertwined into abstract forms with faces cast in shadow. The photography offers a mysterious juxtaposition of human bodies, architecture, vibrant colours, and stark landscapes.

Viviane embraces an interdisciplinary practice, encompassing photography, performance, collage, personal and commercial work. In addition to her personal photography, she has created campaigns for Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, and Louis Vuitton, among others.

She has published 16 series, and most recently has shown at the Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, 2020 and the Grand & Petit Trianon in Versaille, 2019 with her new body of work, “Venus and Mercury”.

By Sophia Nussey

Interview with Viviane Sassen.  Video from The Photographers’ Gallery (2014) on YouTube.


Connect with Viviane |  | Instagram |

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