You may recognise LA-based Palestinian photographer Sarah Bahbah’s dreamily cinematic images from Instagram. Having been raised in Australia, Bahbah initially started taking photos in 2008 as a tool to paint portraits, but soon found that she enjoyed photography much more.
In 2015 Bahbah got the inspiration that would soon see her photographs becoming a viral sensation. How did the idea come to her? Whilst sipping on a Pepsi Max and scrolling on Tumblr, of course.
Taking inspiration from movie stills, she wanted to create a wider narrative on Instagram by “creating pictures with subtitles that would be pieces on their own, but together create a whole story”.
With a new exhibition in New York opening entitled Fuck Me, Fuck You, MILLE spoke to Bahbah to find out what inspires her and her upcoming projects.
You’ve grown up as an Arab in the West. Has this experience ever been an inspiration to your art?
Definitely. I went to a Western school in Perth and came home to an Arab family, so I was influenced by conflicting morals. I kept a lot of feelings and emotions to myself because, as an Arab girl, I was told to just sit still and say nothing basically.
It wasn’t until I moved out eight years ago that I realised I had repressed my emotions because I was told to lose them. It really impacted me.
What are some of the reoccurring themes you try and explore through your work?
The first one is transparency; the sense of being true to your emotions, true to yourself and therefore true to people. The idea of internal dialogue comes from my thoughts and experiences – me documenting them is me being true to myself. Indulgence is the other theme. By being transparent you can indulge; you can empower and encourage. Indulging moments are important because for so long I was being silent.
My exhibition is a curation of my favourite pieces from the caption series that capture the ambivalence of heartbreak and love.
What have you got planned now that you’ve taken your art offline?
I’m working on my TV show but I can’t tell more about it. I did the Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme accompanying campaign in February. Expect a bunch of other collaborations in 2018, but it’s confidential.