Viviane Sassen. Umbra
Deichtorhallen, House of Photography, Hamburg
– 20 August 2017
House of Photography in Hamburg is holding the first solo exhibition of the photographer Viviane Sassen in Germany: “Umbra”. The exhibition shows very personal works by the photographer, including deeply personal references for Sassen, for example works on Kenya, the country where she grew up and frequently worked.
Umbra (Latin for shadow), is the leitmotiv of the eight photo series, each with its own dedicated exhibition space. Sassen’s photographs are known for the play between light and shadow, which is particularly evident through exaggerated colour schemes. Geometrical forms and abstract images of bodies and individual parts of the body are also recurring motifs, which are interpreted in different ways through the series.
Thus, for example, “Totem” is a room installation where photographs are projected onto the walls as moving images. The adjacent wall is mirrored so that a moving room with sharp axes of symmetry is created around viewers. The viewers then become subjects in the centre of that space, but as reflections and shadows also part of the overall work. In other series, mirrors are the protagonists. They are used to separate body parts visually from the rest of the body and, in conjunction with the reflections, turn them into surreal composite images. In the desert sands, her works highlight the geometrical interplay of reflected light and coloured shadows. Even as metaphor, shadows are the main motifs in Sassen’s work: they focus on the process of death and decay, and on the hidden, often dark sides, of people.