Parasomnia. Viviane Sassen (The Netherlands).
Photographs by Viviane Sassen
A short story by Moses Isegawa
Published by Prestel, October 2011. First Edition.
Parasomnia is the recent book (October 2011) by Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen. The more I look at it, … the more I am falling in love with it. As a child Viviane Sassen has spent a couple of years in Kenya (her father ran a medical clinic there) and moved back to the Netherlands feeling like an outsider in both lands. This emotional dislocation runs through her photography and the book can be interpreted as Sassen’s journey back to African continent through dreams, memories and feelings.
Parasomnia refers to sleeping sickness, to all the abnormal things that can happen to people while they sleep. It is an emotional stage between wakefulness and sleep. I think through design, image editing, colours, narrative, the books succeeded in creating dream-like feeling. The series of photographs belong to unidentified locations and have no rational order, inviting viewers to construct their own narratives, the “other”.
The photographs are full of beautiful hyper-vivid colors and shadows, all of them are very odd, depicting people in uncomfortable position. A man looking at the camera, he wears yellow belt and white t-shirt, and has an unexplained blue string in the mouth, - a striking portraits, one of my favorite from this book. The images are almost floating in a book: edited in different sizes, placed in different corners/parts of a page, while some of the images are cut, continuing on the next page.
“I try to make images that confuse me”, Sassen says, “And I hope they confuse others too”.
“I want to seduce the viewer with a beautiful formal approach and then at the same time, leave something disturbing”.