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Viviane Sassen's Inspiration-Packed Exhibition at Huis Marseille

  • Viviane Sassen - Occo
March 15, 2020
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

It is not rare that the world of fashion is merged with fine arts and the reasons for that are numerous; however, the recurrent connecting link is the photographers who express themselves in both directions. One of the most prolific figures known for nurturing this approach is Viviane Sassen. Her simplistic, yet vibrant aesthetic characterized by subtle and abstract framing and the representation of bodies gained her international acclaim in the past years.

Huis Marseille will host the photographer’s new solo exhibition titled Venus & Mercury spreading through all fourteen galleries as well as the museum garden including several new installations made especially for the museum.

Left Viviane Sassen - Blanche and Leila Right Viviane Sassen - La Mauresque
Left: Viviane Sassen – Blanche and Leila, 2019 © Viviane Sassen / Right: Viviane Sassen – La Mauresque, 2019 © Viviane Sassen

Venus & Mercury

The upcoming show will feature Viviane Sassen’s works inspired by numerous fascinating stories related to the lives of Marie Antoinette, royal mistresses, poisoners, and soothsayers, as well as by the erotic and medical histories of the French court in the 17th and 18th century. While Venus refers to the Roman goddess of lust and love, Mercury refers to quicksilver, the liquid metal that was used for a very long time to treat venereal diseases.

Each chapter of the exhibition will interpret a separate story, while as a whole they form an extraordinary narrative consisting of remarkable histories followed by poetic texts written by Marjolijn van Heemstra; certain stories will be related to the actress Tilda Swinton in a video installation, and the artist will take in account the history of the museum building.

Left Viviane Sassen - Menhir Right Viviane Sassen - The Old Centaur
Left: Viviane Sassen – Menhir, 2019 © Viviane Sassen/ Right: Viviane Sassen – The Old Centaur, 2019 © Viviane Sassen

Inspired By The Stories

Several unique ink and paint works that will be hung in the Garden Room at Huis Marseille are inspired by supposedly the illegitimate daughter of the Queen of France – Louise Marie- Thérèse, who was born in 1664. On the other hand, Queen Marie-Antoinette’s simple cotton gown in which she was painted by Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun in the 18th century inspired the artist to produce installation White Linen in the Upstairs Gallery; several other galleries will be centered on the works thematizing the events in the exciting life of a young queen who was eventually guillotined.

The Red Period Room at Huis Marseille is decorated with an 18th-century ceiling painting by Johannes Voorhout featuring a mythological representation of Venus being presented to Mercury; it is where Sassen’s photographs of the false noses constructed for syphilis sufferers will be hanged.

On display will also be the photographs of teenagers Charline, Blanche and Leila taken in the rooms of the Palace of Versailles that underline the contemporary view on lust and eroticism. The last gallery will be focused on the history of Julia Valckenier (1680–1717), who ended up in a house of correction at a young age because of her debauched conduct.

Left Viviane Sassen - Syph Right Viviane Sassen - Penicilline
Left: Viviane Sassen – Syph#01R, 2019 © Viviane Sassen / Right: Viviane Sassen – Penicilline, 2019 © Viviane Sassen

Viviane Sassen at Huis Marseille

After the brief description, it seems that the upcoming exhibition will show all the layers of Viviane Sassen’s intervention and the research she was exposed to while working on this project.

Huis Marseille in Amsterdam will be closed until 31 March 2020. The exhibition is expected to run through May 31, 2020.

Featured image: Viviane Sassen – Occo, 2019 © Viviane Sassen. All images courtesy Huis Marseille.