Viviane Sassen: Pikin Slee
The ICA is delighted to present a solo exhibition of recent work by Viviane Sassen, a photographer who has garnered parallel critical acclaim as a fashion photographer and in the context of contemporary visual art. The content of the exhibition focuses predominantly on a body of work that Sassen made in Pikin Slee, Suriname in 2013. Pikin Slee is the second-largest village on the Upper Suriname River, deep within the Surinamese rainforest. The exhibition consists of black and white and colour works shot on an analogue camera.
In her first visit to Pikin Slee in the summer of 2012, Sassen was intrigued by the village and its inhabitants. Her eye was caught by the overwhelming natural beauty and the Saramacca's very traditional way of living, combined with the more mundane objects which seemed to seep through daily life. The Saramacca community are isolated from the outside world, living without running water, electricity, roads or the internet. The only way to access the village is by canoe, a journey of about three hours up-river. They grow their food on small agricultural plots, producing cassava bread, pressed maripa palm oil and dried coconut.
Shot mainly in black and white and of contained format, Sassen's series of abstract compositions and elusive subjects are an exploration of the beauty of the everyday, an investigation of the sculptural qualities of the ordinary.
My memories of Africa have always played a major role in my life and in my work. I guess that’s because they filled my very first consciousness. It’s in my spine, my blue-print so to speak… When I returned back from Kenya, all I knew was my life there, so Holland seemed very strange and new to me... Now that I’ve travelled so much in Africa over the past 12 years, my ideas about the continent and about myself in relation to it, have changed of course. But it’s a continuous journey, both in the inside world and the outside world. My work is a reflection of that journey - Viviane Sassen
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