The book “Modern Alchemy” offers a conversation between the photography of Viviane Sassen and the thoughts of philosopher Emanuele Coccia.
Interspersed with chapters from Coccia’s essay, Sassen’s photographic collages bring together various beings, lifeforms and forms of matter in ways that bring forth something new: a creative, lively production of something new with existing forms, to be studied and marveled at. Meanwhile Coccia, best known for his radical rethinking of our understanding of the non-living and the relationship between humans and nature, examines the human view on matter, chemistry and life. Both photographs and text possess enough substance to function entirely on their own, but their interaction in “Modern Alchemy” opens up a new, third space for Sassen’s and Coccia’s visions to unfold even further.
“There is something liberating in recognizing the material and spiritual continuity that connects all things regardless o their nature or qualities. It is as though another life—a deeper life, a life that is able to become our own at any moment—existed behind, beneath, or within the life of the living. If everything results from one modification or another of one and the same matter then culture versus nature, mind versus body, and soul versus flesh, no longer stand as dichotomies.
― from Emanuele Coccia’s essay