Viviane Sassen has never been one to stick to the conformities of the fashion photography world (and we thank her for it). She has often expressed her love/hate relationship with the industry, and it is that very opinion that injects her work with an unconventional and experimental twist. It is obvious that growing up in Africa has made a huge impact on her images, thrusting her deeply ingrained love of colour, graphic shapes and strong contrasts into her work, leaving it with a signature aesthetic.
This aesthetic has made her one of the most sought-after fashion photographers of our time. Her experimental vision of the fashion world speaks a unique language that has ultimately left her shooting campaigns for some of the biggest names of the industry, names such as Stella McCartney, adidas and Miu Miu. But it was magazines like i-D, Dazed & Confused and POP that provided her with the freedom and a platform to explore and bring out her photographic genius.
“It’s important that images somehow confuse me, or disturb me, or grasp me for a long time. We live in a culture where there are so many images being thrown at us all the time. I try to make them more challenging for the eye and the mind.” (dazeddigital.com)
Sassen’s work is characterised by her subversion of the prevailing codes and practices, which dominate the world of fashion and advertising. Her models often seem secondary in her images. Figures obscured by light are often faceless, intertwined with other bodies or transformed with props and garments to create sculptural compositions. She favours location shooting and will always bring elements of nature into the studio to leave her viewers constantly questioning.
Sassen’s archive of surreal fashion photography is finally on display at her first London exhibition, Analemma: Fashion Photography 1992 – 2012. And if you think you’re going to walk into your standard ‘photos on the wall’ kind of space, you’re wrong. Sassen has stayed true to her unconventional aesthetic and featured her work in a multi-media centred installation where 350 of her most influential fashion images shift around the space. Showing only a handful of images scrolling by at a time, it leaves you dying to see more. (let’s just say I sat there in awe for over an hour!)
Definitely not one to miss, so get your arses down there asap. Oh, and you most likely won’t be able to resist all her books – available in the gallery shop – so bring cash money!
Words by Rochelle Bambury
TagsAnalemma, fashion, Photography, Rochelle Bambury, Surreal, The Photographers' Gallery, Viviane Sassen,