Witness beautiful cinematic stills for a movie you may never see. Displayed in major art exhibitions around the world, admired by celebrities, celebrated and shared heavily on social media, and with a cult-like following on Instagram, Sarah Bahbah has become an it-photographer you need to follow.
Known for her explicit transparent exploration of the internal voices of young females, Bahbah’s raw storytelling style, depicted as beautiful film stills, delve into intimate themes of love, pain, and seduction, primarily shown from the female perspective.
Her work has features faces like Dylan Sprouse, Cailin Russo, and Adesuwa Aighewi as characters she builds within her storylines, each inspired by their own life experiences.
Her work is achieving worldwide reach and impact as each project promotes a social cause for women finding freedom in self-love. Mixed that with the sarcasm and candor of the various photography captions like "Can I sit here? No sorry, I'm in love." makes her account relatable and introspective, allowing her to amass a cult following of over 450,000 people.
Culminating in 2015’s, Summer Without a Pool series through to 2017’s This Is Not For You series, @sarahbahbah is now one of the most shared accounts on Instagram, hosting her portfolio of seductive and intimate imagery.
Bahbah checks off another major milestone recently opening her first solo exhibition in New York City, F*ck Me, F*ck You, on March 10 running through April 8. We caught up with Bahbah to discuss the inspiration behind her latest exhibition, collaborating with Dylan Sprouse, and empowering women to express themselves. Read the full interview below.
What inspired your latest exhibit Fuck Me, Fuck You?
3 things: The first, as an artist it has become my sole motivation to empower women to embrace transparency of emotion, and indulgence of body, mind and feelings. The exhibition ‘Fuck Me, Fuck You’ is a curated selection of works from the many photo series I have done, which reflect these key motivations.
The second, a huge desire to remove myself from being attached to a gallery and start running my own shows around the world. In the name of being half business woman, half artist.
Lastly, the fans. The most common question I get is, “when are you doing a solo exhibition [insert city]?” Knowing it was important to them, really inspired me to get it done.
How much of your personal life is displayed in your work?
Every word you read, is a reflection of my internal dialogue, the words I wish I said, the words I actually say or the words I dreamt I said.
Your work plays out like a scene in a movie, was that always the plan?
Absolutely. When I started this series in 2015, my ultimate goal was to challenge the Instagram platform in a way that wasn’t being done. At the time I kept seeing screenshots from films being posted repeatedly on Instagram. That’s when the idea hit me. Instead of creating motion, I thought it would be far stronger to create a serial, episodic quasi-narrative of cinematic stills, where each individual piece tells a story on it’s own, but when you bring the body of work together, there is a deeper narrative open to interpretation, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions based on their own experiences and emotions. I think leaving the work open to interpretation, makes it even more relatable.
What made you decide to include dialogue?
When I’m being transparent with myself and my emotions, I am writing, when I am writing I am healing. A big part of this process, is to put my thoughts out there, knowing that I am not alone.
You've created a couple short films recently, can we expect more?
Yes and no. My new photo series will have one scene in motion. As for shorts, I’m more into this TV show idea I’m currently writing ;-)
You're work is heavily female focused, what do you want women to take away from your work?
I want women to feel safe expressing themselves. For so long we’ve been silenced or left to feel “crazy” for being real and open with our emotions. The ultimate goal is to empower and inspire women to BE MORE TRANSPARENT with their thoughts and BE TRUE to their emotions. In doing so, we fight against the harsh boundaries that have been forced on us for so long, which in term leads to liberation and a sense of freedom.
How did your collaboration with Dylan Sprouse come about?
On Instagram DM's. Dylan reached out, I happened to be coming to New York a day after. We met at a bar to see if we vibed. We did. And the next day we shot a whole series within 2 hours.
Are there any favorite artists/models you want to work with in the future?
Rami Malek, Issa Rae, Zoe Kravitz, and Imaan Hammam.
You have over 400K Instagram followers, what are some of your favorite responses you've gotten online?
My favorite is when followers tag the people who are doing them wrong. For instance, “If you’re going to be a fuckboy at least be good at fucking” – and some girls will actually tag the fuck boy and say “you”etc. Haha
But in all seriousness, I am so grateful and overwhelmed by the amount of girls who say that I’m giving them a voice, and helping them express themselves the way they do not know how. That is my greatest motivation.
Sarah Bahbah's latest exhibition 'F*ck Me, F*ck You' is currently running in New York City at the Castle Fitzjohns Gallery from March 10 through April 8. For more information on instillation, head to Eventbrite.
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