photographer viviane sassen on show at london's ica

The Amsterdam-born snapper opens up her Pikin Slee show today.

by Bojana Kozarevic
03 February 2015, 4:30pm

Blue Shoulder 2013. © Viviane Sassen. Courtesy the artist and Stevenson Gallery

Viviane Sassen's inimitable work, both documentary and daring fashion photography has marked her out as one of the most interesting and challenging contemporary photographers. The exhibition, launching today, is a concentrated body of work that Sassen made in Pikin Slee, the second-largest village on the Upper Suriname River, deep within the Surinamese rainforest.

Cell 2013. © Viviane Sassen. Courtesy the artist and Stevenson Gallery

In her first visit there in the summer of 2012, Sassen was intrigued by the village, the overwhelming natural beauty and the 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.

Manja 2013. © Viviane Sassen. Courtesy the artist and Stevenson Gallery

Shot on an analogue camera (mostly in black and white, but with some colour), this body of work is an exploration of the ordinary and the extraordinary lives of Pikin Slee's inhabitants, with Sassen capturing it all with integrity and excitement. Whether it's fashion photography, visual art or her photographic surrealist realism on display, Sassen's exhibitions are unmissable. 

Pikin Slee is at the ICA from today until 12th April. 

Viviane Sassen
pikin slee