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Review of the Year 2015: photographer Viviane Sassen

We caught up with Deutsche Börse Prize nominated photographer Viviane Sassen to find out more about her fantastic year.

Viviane Sassen’s work has many faces. Whether it’s fine art or fashion-based, everything the Dutch photographer creates is executed with a defining attention to colour and composition. Known for her striking, bold images, she’s definitely no newcomer, but 2015 in particular seems to have been a peak year for Sassen.

She rounded off 2014 with her first London exhibition, a stunning multimedia show of ten years of her fashion photography at The Photographer’s Gallery in London, which closed in January this year. She properly kicked off 2015 with a solo show at the ICA of pictures taken in Suriname, and soon after, her exhibition of abstract photography, drawings and light installations, Umbra at Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, earned her a nomination for the 2015 Deutsche Börse photography prize.


Viviane Sassen


If that wasn’t enough, she has also continued to segue seamlessly into shooting top-tier fashion campaigns, putting her name to work for both Paul Smith and a second campaign for Missoni, for which she collaborated with M/M Paris. To round off a string of successes, her publication Umbra has been awarded a gold medal for best photo book of the year at the Fotobuch Preis Germany.

Here, we asked Viviane to look back on what has been a stellar year.


Viviane Sassen


Viviane Sassen

What was your creative highlight of 2015?

Making and publishing my latest book, Umbra in collaboration with the amazing Irma Boom and Maria Barnas! That, and my exhibitions at the ICA in London, the Atelier Néerlandais in Paris, and my nomination for the Deutsche Börse Prize.

What was your lowlight of 2015?

Personally: friends in trouble, and not enough time to stand by their side. Creatively: shooting a 20 image campaign in three and a half hours on a prep-day because of bad weather. Quite some pressure.

What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?

Enough time to contemplate! Time gives you the freedom to experiment as well, which is key to the creative process. Although I like pressure too, I have to admit.


Viviane Sassen

Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?

Apart from the Umbra book, it would definitely be the trip I made to Bhutan… Such an extraordinary country, with breathtaking atmosphere.

Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?

My book Umbra.

How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?

I don’t know yet… It always takes me some more time to oversee such changes, as they evolve gradually. I’m very much into punk lately.

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?

Never just assume a boarding time.


Viviane Sassen

Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?

Marlene Dumas.

Describe 2015 in five words.

Everything changes all the time.

What are your hopes for 2016?

More tolerance in this world.

Viviane Sassen is represented by We Folk.


Viviane Sassen

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