The International Photography Festival Organ Vida brings a solo exhibition by Dutch artist Viviane Sassen. “Venus & Mercury” is the first-ever major show of the artist in Croatia and in these areas, which will also open the 12th edition of the festival on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, starting at 8 p.m.
Viviane Sassen’s new body of work, “Venus & Mercury “(2020), was commissioned by the Palace of Versailles for the exhibition Visible/Invisible. For six months Sassen was given private, after-hours access to Versailles. During this time, she delved into the archives and used the artefacts and architecture of the palace to create a body of new photographs and collages. The images, including photographs of Marie-Antoinette’s private correspondence, and fragments of sculptures, allude to the untold stories of Versailles. Drawn to the bodies represented in the palace’s many marble statues, Sassen created hybrid forms that play with notions of sexuality and gender and call to mind traditions of Surrealist art and the work of figures such as Hans Bellmer. To embody these stories, Sassen worked with a group of young women who grew up near the palace. These models appear and disappear amidst a jumble of images that mix the ancient with the modern and the real with make-belief.
The central element of “Venus & Mercury” is a 20-minute, two-screen video, featuring all the images from the project. For this video, Sassen commissioned the Dutch writer Marjolijn van Heemstra to write short stories of hidden palace histories. Tilda Swinton then recorded these stories, and Swinton’s voice-over was mixed with an ambient music soundtrack. The result is a transporting environment of moving images and sound, a vortex that pulls the audience back into time.
For this occasion, the artist also made a site-specific work, a large installation in the form of a collage, which in addition to the themes of fertility and motherhood also refers to contemporary feminist movements such as Femen, Pussy Riot, and #MeToo; they visualize lamentation and aggression against male dominance.
Viviane Sassen (1972, Amsterdam) is an internationally renowned artist known not only for her autonomous photography but also for her commissioned work in the fashion world. Sassen was awarded the Prix de Rome in 2007 and the Infinity Award of the International Center of Photography in New York in 2011. In 2012–2013 Huis Marseille showed her extremely successful and acclaimed solo exhibition “In and Out of Fashion”. In recent years her work has been exhibited at numerous prestigious venues, including the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); The Hepworth Wakefield museum in Yorkshire, England; the Haus der Photographie in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg; the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London; and the Fotomuseum Winterthur. Sassen’s work was included in the group exhibition “Visible / Invisible” which ran from 4 May to 20 October 2019 in the Grand Trianon in Versailles, and which formed the first impulse for Venus & Mercury.
The artist talk with Viviane Sassen will be moderated by curator Marina Paulenka at MSU, on Wednesday, June 29, starting at 7 p.m. The artist will also present her recently published book Venus and Mercury.
The exhibition is supported by: Mondriaan Fonds, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, City Office for Culture of the City of Zagreb