Welcome to this 16th episode of the new Dior Talks series ‘The Female Gaze’. With the term developed in response to the writings of feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, this podcast series will explore how the work of the female photographers and creatives collaborating with Dior offers a radically new and progressive image of women.
In this episode, series host Charlotte Jansen, a British journalist and author, speaks with the Dutch artist and photographer Viviane Sassen, whose highly prolific, category-defying career blurs the boundaries between fine art and fashion photography, and whose unique aesthetic led to a collaboration with Maria Grazia Chiuri to photograph the campaign for the cruise 2019 collection with Jennifer Lawrence. Her uniquely dream-like aesthetic originates partly from her early childhood experiences in Africa and also with her determinedly expansive approach to photography and insistence on viewing the image through varied metaphorical lenses.
Viviane Sassen was born in Amsterdam but spent some of her formative childhood years in Kenya, before her family moved back to the Netherlands in 1978. She studied design and photography and gained a Master’s in Fine Art from the prestigious Ateliers Arnhem. She has returned repeatedly to Kenya and other parts of Africa throughout her career and credits her early experiences in the region for her fascination with ideas of place, identity and anonymity and her use of ideas of memory, abstraction and surreality in her work. She has shown widely around the world, including exhibitions at MoMA, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Nederlands Fotomuseum and the Photographer’s Gallery in London. She was awarded the Dutch Prix de Rome in 2007 and many other awards internationally in recognition of her work.
In this week’s episode, Sassen discusses her life and the concept of time in the studio during lockdown and her relationship to the travel and movement which is inherent in her practice. She also speaks about her own viewpoint and her various subjects; how aspects of this gaze are constant and deeply personal, but also how her eye shifts and adapts according to the project she is working on, whether fine art photographs or her prolific output as a fashion photographer.