From Julian Spalding’s review of Michael Massaia’s series, “Deep in a Dream: Sheep Meadow,” for julianspalding.net:
You fall in love and are lifted up by it. Michael Massaia expresses love most extraordinarily and vividly (superlatives are unavoidable when talking about his work) by the simplest of means: by up-ending his images so that the sinking experience of falling asleep becomes a sensation of rising. He edges as close as he can to couples sleeping in a city park, sometimes within two feet, and photographs them with a high resolution camera, powerful speed flash and wide-angle lens. The large gold-toned gelatin silver prints he makes from these exposures are hand crafted, every tone controlled. His images are at once natural (the couples are always unaware that they are being photographed) and abstract, tip-toe suspensions in space that have the artful precision of studio shots.
Born in New Jersey in 1978, Michael Massaia came to photography in a most unusual way. He found he sometimes couldn’t sleep for long periods and began taking a camera with him as he wondered the streets at night. To his surprise, photography developed into an all-absorbing means of intense, personal expression. He taught himself all the skills he uses. He works in themes which haunt him: telephone booths with their phones off the hook; beetle-headed lorries with unnaturally elongated bodies; eerie, silver paths through deserted inner city parks – all these sights never far from his front door. Most of his photographs are taken between 4.00 am and 7.00 am – his favourite light is the half hour before dawn. Feelings of isolation and disconnection fascinate him, the sense of being alone, but not lonely, in the heart of the city. He is a profound, contemplative artist of our times.