Re-enchanting the natural world –

'Modern Alchemy' by Viviane Sassen & Emanuele Coccia

MODERN ALCHEMY was born out of a meeting between photographer VIVIANE SASSEN and philosopher EMANUELE COCCIA through a collaboration for Perrier Jouët. The collaboration sees their two creative minds converge in a fruitful and symbiotic dialogue of images and words celebrating the infinite beauty of art and nature.

80 new images from Sassen show bodies colliding, human forms metamorphosing with animal, and flora and fauna cut, pasted and re-alchemised into impossible and fantastic figures. Coccia’s essay sits reciprocally with the images, contemplating the unity and divinity of earthly matter and the perpetual modification of the state of all things.

Both are alchemists, re-enchanting the natural world and observing the ever-changing beauty of nature.

Gorgeously bound in printed cloth, MODERN ALCHEMY is available to purchase from JBE Books

“Alchemy is the attempt to build a world in which everything is the mind and the hand of something other. A world where everything breathes and yearns in unison.” – VIVIANE SASSEN

“When in Rome it is hard to resist believing that stones are divine—it is hard to dismiss the intuition, albeit vague, that all matter on Earth is somewhat divine, regardless of it taking the form of mountains, women, war memorials, or trees.” – EMANUELE COCCIA

Viviane Sassen (born 1972) is a Dutch photographer based in Amsterdam who works in both the fashion and fine art worlds. She has photographed campaigns for luxury brands such as Miu Miu, Stella McCartney and Louis Vuitton, and her work has been exhibited at Fotografiska, New York (2017); Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2017); and ICA, London (2015). She won the International Center of Photography's Infinity Award for Applied / Fashion / Advertising Photography in 2011.

Emanuele Coccia (born 1976) is a philosopher of aesthetics, with a focus on the ontological status and normative power of images in fashion and advertising. He is an associate professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and visiting professor at Harvard. Coccia is the author of Metamorphoses (2021), The Life of Plants (2018) and Sensible Life (2016).