Viviane Sassen, Lexicon

As the title suggests, the work can be seen as offering a point of departure from which to explore Sassen’s aesthetic and imaginative world, revealing key elements of her visual vocabulary. Lexicon features images from Sassen’s acclaimed publications Flamboya (2008) and Parasomnia (2011), in addition to some previously unpublished photographs. Specifically for this installation, the photographs have all been printed at the same size, 30 x 42cm, like “cue cards” to understanding of the artist’s discourse.

Sassen describes the logic of the presentation as “a kind of ordered chaos. I never work in series; I rather build collections of related images. If you combine photographs in a particular way, you can tell stories that go further than an isolated image.” The men and women in her photographs are in a sense also combinations of images; they are more compositions than individuals.


Sassen is not a portraitist, as she explains: “I don’t show the face because I don’t want the work to be about that person in the picture. What I am trying to capture or produce is an archetypal image, an image that goes beyond the description of the physiognomic and physical specificities of an individual. I seek to provide the work with a universal dimension, more abstract, more about mankind.”


In his essay published in Flamboya, Edo Dijksrterhuis writes that we can discern a triptych of archetypes in Sassen’s work. These themes and compositions are all present in Lexicon: the faceless subject; the figure on the ground; intertwined figures that become one. Another recurring element is the surreal still life, subverting our perceptions of nature, of quotidian objects and situations. Sassen does not describe or explain; she suggests, inviting the viewer into an alternative experience of reality.


Viviane Sassen (born 1972) is a Dutch artist living in Amsterdam. She is a photographer who works in both the fashion and fine art world. Sassen lived in Kenya as a child and often works in Africa. She started studying fashion at Arnhem but soon turned to photography. She received her MFA from Royal Academy in Arnhem. She is of the generation of photographer/artists that alternate personal, editorial, and commercial work and embrace an interdisciplinary attitude.She is known for her use of geometric shapes, often abstractions of bodies. Sassen was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 for her exhibition Umbra at Nederlands Fotomuseum. She has won the Dutch Prix de Rome (2007) and the Infinity Award from International Center of Photography.

Opening: 02.06: 20.00

Place: Szklarnia Gallery, Nowe Media building, ground floor

Exhibition open: 03.06-20.06; Mon-Fri: 10.00-20.00; during the festival weekends: Sat-Sun: 10-16; 04.06: closed


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