Etan: Viviane Sassen

Etan, 2013

Viviane Sassen (b. 1972) is a Dutch photographer whose work hovers between fashion photography and fine art.

Sassen never plans her photoshoots, instead choosing to work from vague ideas or a specific person from which to build her photographic experiments. Irrespective of Sassen’s free-flowing creative approach, her use of colour, shape, powder and paint always helps to create a tactile, evocative quality to her images.

Etan belongs to a series of Sassen’s photographs that were used to accompany a poem by Maria Barnas in their 2014 co-authored publication: Etan & Me.

Whilst in Suriname, Sassen took portraits of a young man called Etan and combined them with blurred, scattered photographs of herself. The resulting effect is an expressive reflection on the stories of Eros and Thanatos; the origin of the painting anecdote by Pliny the Elder*; and ultimately, love and loss.

I have always been interested in how images communicate together if you change their context or the way [in which] you pair them.’ – Viviane Sassen

*Pliny the Elder said painting had first been invented by a woman tracing the outline of her lover before he went into battle.

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