Parasomnia, 2007 - 2011
'Sassen spent her childhood years in East Africa. She describes that, on her family's return to the Netherlands, she felt like a foreigner in her homeland but knew that she had also been an outsider in Africa. Parasomnia animates these feelings of dislocation between home and away, night and day, life and dreams. The series comprises photographs taken in West and East Africa over the past two years, as well as a few taken in Europe, which frame her enigmatic and often haunting narratives.
As a New York Times critic recently noted (in a review of the Museum of Modern Art's New Photography exhibition), Sassen's images 'convey how strangely vivid and tantalizingly sad the world can seem to a mind and eye divested of the usual filters of perception'. Her photographs constantly disrupt our usual perceptions because some are carefully constructed while others are incidental scenes she encounters on her travels, leaving us unsure which are her imaginary fictions and which scenes from life. Her distinct visual language is articulated by a deep awareness of the formalist concerns of painting, sculpture and photography, as well as an acute sense of colour and the optical resonances of pattern and design'.