Continuing Marte Mei van Haaster's Dazed Digital takeover, the model shared with us her favourite photographer, Viviane Sassen. "I chose someone I really admire and can also relate to, as she, like me, also used to study fashion and also had a modeling career," says van Haaster. "I already knew her work when I met her on a job this year. It was a nice experience to shoot fashion with someone whose artistic skills you really admire. Her view on the interaction between people, streets and their shadows is really inspiring for me. She can create an almost abstract image by just looking and composing the image very carefully."
Sassen, an Amsterdam-based imagemaker who has spent time redefining the post-colonial art genre through her colour flooded pictures often looks to her childhood in Kenya. Her art, commercial and fashion photography studies the uneasy diffidence the fashion world has to the 'Other'.
"As long as I can remember, I have felt very close to Africans. This is most probably due to the fact that I lived with my family in Kenya when I was a child," Sassen explains. "Yet, this very experience of closeness has also engendered contradictory feelings. While feeling to be a part of this world, I have also kept on being aware of the fact that I would never really be a part of it. Very soon, I have come to understand that I would always remain a stranger. In this way I try in my work to figure this ambiguity. You feel close but at the same time distant. And that is something that is most of times absent in traditional Western depictions of Africa, always clearly reflecting the interpretation and gaze of Westerners."
A strong visual language of block colour, abstract shades and graphic lines, Sassen has shot for magazines including Dazed & Confused and Another, producing campaigns for Stella McCartney and Missoni. The photographer will be the focus of a forthcoming retrospective at Huis Marseille museum for photography, an exhibition tracking her career and the close relationship she has with stylist and muse, Roxane Danset.