Viviane Sassen – Umbra –1st May 2014

During my recent stay in Rotterdam I visited this exhibition at the Nederland’s Fotomuseum


Here are some links for information about the installation and the photographer:

Summary gives the full catalogue of the exhibition prints

Reference to the links above will give some idea of the scale and scope of the work.

This exhibition/installation was diverse in content and quite extensive. The work was assembled specifically for the Nederland’s Fotomuseum and  Umbra is introduced as a ‘new work that focuses on the play of light and shadow as a metaphor of the human psyche.”

Viviane Sassen (b1972) is a leading international photographer based in Amsterdam. This work features light, colour and shadow, a characteristic of her work. (Umbra = shadow in Latin) and installations which include video and words by poet Maria Barnas. The introduction to the exhibition refers to “heavier themes” and the work of Jung who connected the shadow to the “alter ego, personal fears, desire and shame”

I made a few notes as I walked around but I’m not sure I am able to do it justice. The first gallery was an interesting installation of two rolling desert landscapes projected at 90°with two light sources and a mirror which enabled you to cast your own shadow on the image. Another interesting installation called Hurtling which involved a video of the shadow (reversed out in negative) of hands signing a passage from Jeanette Winterson’s novel, GUT Symmetries. The link above to the catalogue gives an idea of the diversity of the work. I particularly liked the section called Axiom which used a mirror and shadows to form striking coloured abstracts. The series called Larvae brought to mind the work of Arno Rafael Minkkinen with the body inserted into the landscape.

The final installation called “Aura” was great fun and demonstrated the principal of RGB additive colour process. The three coloured lights were projected across a room onto a white wall and depending which colours you blocked with you body, you could cast different coloured shadows and introduce coloured auras when the lamps were partially obscured in combination.

Given my interest in close-up abstracts, I got a lot from this exhibition and it has broadened my understanding of art photography.





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