Interviews to Watch:
5 Lens-Based Artists

Watch leading photographers and filmmakers speak about their practice. Sourced from platforms NOWNESS, Tate, Louisiana Channel and SFMOMA, these videos are full of visual inspiration and ideas.

Viviane Sassen’s (b. 1972) vibrant colours combine with abstract shapes and contorted lighting to create a surreal landscape where down is up, bodies turn green and nothing is quite what it seems. Born in Amsterdam, Sassen spent seven years studying fine art, photography and fashion design. This wide-reaching skill-set bridges the gap between classic artistic constructs and contemporary fashion. She is recognised for presenting innovative approaches to fabric and styling.

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Dawoud Bey was born in 1953 in the borough of Queens, New York City. Now a world-renowned photographer, he first began to develop an interest in images as a teenager, receiving a camera from his godmother in 1968. The following year, he saw Harlem on My Mind – an exhibition widely criticised for its failure to include a significant number of artworks by African Americans. Four decades later, Bey continues to create powerful and tender photographs that portray Black stories and experiences. 

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“My work has always come from empathy and love”, says American photographer Nan Goldin, who began taking photographs as a teenager in Boston, Massachusetts. She is recognised for making deeply personal and candid portraits; intimate images which act as a visual autobiography. Throughout her series, Goldin has documented herself and those closest to her, especially the LGBTQ+ community. With Tate, Goldin discusses documenting childhood, with moments captured from pregnancy through to teenage years.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948) is a Japanese artist best known for the Theatres series (1978-present) in which he visits theatres and cinemas, often abandoned and dilapidated. Sugimoto then projects a film in the space, which he photographs with a long exposure. The moving images become condensed into a single pure white frame. In this video, he describes the out-of-body experience he had when photographing the moon from a cliff, which later culminated in a series of seascapes.

Isaac Julien CBE is an award winning filmmaker and installation artist. He rose to prominence with the 1989 film Looking for Langston, a poetic documentary and homage to Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. His work has since explored a variety of issues including black identity, diaspora, migration and economics. Julien has become one of the most compelling and experimental artist filmmakers in practice today, crafting a wide range of feature films, meditative documentaries and art installations.

Lead image: © Viviane Sassen. From the book Viviane Sassen: In & Out of Fashion. Courtesy Prestel.