From 11 September to 1 November 2015 the Nederlands Fotomuseum and the Dutch embassy in Paris are pleased to present Viviane Sassen’s unique photography project UMBRA at l’Atelier Néerlandais. Sassen ranks among the world’s leading photographers. Over the past year she has produced a series of new works specially for the Nederlands Fotomuseum, centred on the play of shadows that is so characteristic of her work.
Viviane Sassen produces both fashion photography and autonomous work. She first gained notice through her striking colour photographs in which form and content balance on the edge of abstraction. Exuberant colours and deep shadows are equally important, the latter sometimes lending mysterious contours to familiar shapes. The human figure, the body, and the pose are major classical and artistic themes in her work. However, her play with realism and abstraction, which confuses our perception and leaves meaning up in the air, is uniquely modern. Sassen compels us to reflect on the realistic character of photography by emphasising the spectacular and poetic aspects of her work.
UMBRA will feature a series of non-commissioned pieces by Sassen in a kaleidoscopic presentation in which shadow often functions as a metaphor for the human psyche. Fears and desires, fantasy and illusion both intrigue and entice the viewer, in a series of photographs in which the interplay of realism and abstraction is both spectacular and poetic. Sassen invited poet Maria Barnas to write poems to accompany the images.
With a project like UMBRA, the Nederlands Fotomuseum consciously seeks to allow space for artistic experimentation in photography and to create new perspectives on the shifting boundaries of the documentary image.
A publication of the same name consisting of a collection of poetry and 11 loose-leaf prints has been issued in conjunction with the exhibition. A limited run of the second edition recently appeared, and an extended edition designed by Irma Boom is due for publication by Prestel in September.