My second post is about Viviane Sassen’s photographic work in Africa.
I was impressed of it, the first time I saw pictures of her “Flamboya” series. Her different photographic approach on Africa, was completely new to me. The colors, shadows, poses and poetry in her pictures, show an Africa that I have never seen before.
Here is a short introduction of Viviane Sassen by herself.
“My name is Viviane Sassen. I grew up in Africa, partly, in Kenya. In 2002 or so, I decided to travel back to Africa together with my husband. When we reached the places I grew up, I just had very vivid dreams and memories of the time that I was a kid. For me, photography is a very intuitive process. I think most of my work has to do more with my own personality and, I don’t know, maybe with my own emotions and, it’s not that political. It’s not meant to be that political. And I like this kind of ambiguity. At least I hope you can perceive the work or read the work in different ways.”
The BPB 2010 panel explores the current changes in photography brought about by the digital revolution, its impact on analogue processes and the cultural, artistic and economic contexts for practitioners including producing photographic work; the status and format of the photographic print; private and public collections and future directions of the market place with a focus on the UK.
These pages from Viviane Sassen’s Sketchbook give a good insight into her working method, whichis highly conceptual. I wish I could see something like this from more photographers.
“When I’m working, I usually take a sketch book. Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning and I have had very vivid dreams or I just suddenly have an idea, I start sketching. So sometimes my pictures are almost literal pictures of the sketches I did. And then, on the other moment, I just find something on the street which excites me […]. I want to establish a kind of a poem almost, a kind of rhythm. And having all these images together, which sometimes have a kind of surrealness about them already and then together combined with other pictures.”
"I was really taken with Amsterdam-based photographer Viviane Sassen, 36, whose work I saw at the Forma booth at Paris Photo this past November. Her photographs, taken in Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania, tease fashion conventions but with really witty and unexpected results, partly because her subjects are all young Africans who seem to have enjoyed collaborating with her. She tends to treat the body as a sculptural element — a malleable shape that combines with blocks of shadow and bright color in arrangements that sometimes read like cut-paper collages, bold and abstract but full of vibrant life."
"Well, I’m not really that interested in a particular person. What I am trying to capture or produce is an archetypal image, an image that goes beyond the description of the physiognomic and psychical specificities of an individual. I seek to provide the work with a universal dimension, what I call the roundness of a work."
“Sketches, Polaroids of Africa” is a collection of Polaroids made between 2002 and 2010 in Africa. These Polaroids were taken as test shots, before the final photograph. Some of them you can see in the book “Flamboya”.
A nice review of the book you can find here on photo-eye blog.
“Parasomnia”, a sleep disorder involving strange movements, behaviors, emotions, and dreams, is Viviane Sassen’s latest series. It’s a form of self-analysis, creating graphic, color-saturated compositions that mine her childhood memories, but also underscore her status as an outsider in a part of the world she will always consider home.
“Working in Africa opens doors of my subconscious more widely, my dreams are very vivid when I’m there.” - Viviane Sassen