Viviane Sassen was born in Amsterdam in 1972, and spent her early childhood in Kenya. She began studying photography after going to school for fashion design, where she realized that her interest was not in clothes but in making images. In 1997, she received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Royal Academy in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Since then she has found great success as a fashion photographer, publishing work in avant-garde fashion magazines throughout the world.
Sassen has established a visual vocabulary that is stylized, symbolic and mysterious. Her aesthetic combines a sense of childhood memory, where scenes are crystallized and highly saturated with color with a photographer’s sensitivity to the body and surface. The strong presence of shadow and darkness in Sassen’s images provokes more questions than answers. If there is such a thing as magical realism in photography, these photographs embody it.
Her portraits combine the spontaneous with the staged, and often come out of ideas that Sassen carries in a sketchbook of inspirations for future compositions. These ideas are shared with her subjects as the starting point for each photograph. Critic Vince Aletti commented, “Her photographs tease fashion conventions but with 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.” (source .danzigerprojects.com )