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UAL Research Online

Sarah Dobai

Dobai, Sarah (2001) Sarah Dobai. [Show/Exhibition]

Type of Research: Show/Exhibition
Creators: Dobai, Sarah

Solo exhibition of 6 new large-scale photographic works which used the human figure, interior and exterior spaces to reflect upon the nature of urban experience and the practice of realism at the turn of the twenty-first century.

My practice relates to international debate of these subjects and the use of photography as a leading medium in this forum by practitioners including Hannah Starkey (UK), Rineke Dhikstra (NL) and Gregory Crewdson (USA). In this field my work is distinguished by the use of a heightened realism which aims to manifest a subjects inner experience of everyday phenomena. The heightened quality of my works is the outcome of an intensive working method. As Simon Morrissey writes my works are “fundamentally concentrated culminations of an extended process that is distilled into a single still or moving image…..it is the considerable labour entailed in the creation of her singular pieces that instils them with the highly concentrated nature that has come to characterise Dobai’s work.” In this exhibition the inter-relationships between the six images was choreographed to suggest a considered repertoire of narratives, atmospheres and formal properties. The works shown address and challenge some of the closed and circular debates that are rehearsed around so called ‘constructed photography’ by producing works that relate to the traditions of portraiture, landscape and still-life painting and in doing so situate contemporary photographic practice within a broader history of image-making.

Additional Information (Publicly available):


Sarah Dobai works with photography, film and video, she has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and America. Recent exhibitions include On the Nature of Things, Kamloops Art Gallery, Canada (2011), A Fire Is Set in His Masters House, Chapter Arts, Cardiff (2011), Theatres of the Real, Antwerp FotoMuseum (2009), Darkside 2, Winterthur FotoMusuem (2009), Studio/ Location Photographs, Works| Projects (2009), Sarah Dobai; Photographs and a Film, Galerie Zurcher, Paris (2008), Dispari Dispari, Reggio Emilia (2008) Innocence and Experience, Gimpel Fils, London (2007) and Sarah Dobai, Artists’ Space, New York (2003). In 2006 Kettles Yard, Cambridge presented a major solo show of selected photographs and a specially commissioned two screen video projection ‘Model 280’.

In the mid 1990‘s Sarah Dobai completed an MFA at the University of British Columbia in Canada, after which she established her practice with a consciousness of international debates around photography and the moving image. From 2004-2006 she was awarded a Residency at Delfina Studio Trust, London and in 2008 she was made a Visual Arts Laurete by the Centre International des Recollets, Paris. Her work is featured in Charlotte Cotton's ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’ Thames & Hudson, and in the second edition of Michel Poivert’s’ ‘La Photographie Contemporaine’, Flammarion Presse 2010. She lives and works in London.


My work with photography, video and film combines studio-based and on location approaches to reflect on the everyday and its relationship with the media of photography and film. Whilst my work with the still and moving image have been wide-ranging, the work has seen the development of prevailing themes and methodologies predicated around the dynamics of space, place and the human subject as understood through our own intimate experience and through the images of collective experiences represented on TV, in the cinema and in literature. Recent research has led to the production of a number of film and video works, Short Story Piece, Model 280 and Nettlecombe which are distinctive for the way that they both engage in and actively defy the conventions of mainstream illusionistic and narrative cinema.

The recent series Studio/ Location Photographs focusses on the image of the shopping mall and how its concern with commodity and consumption effects the way the space functions and how people behave there. The series juxtaposes photographs of un-peopled sites shot in malls, with images of actor/models taken in the studio. In the studio the models are pictured in a set whose construction intentionally echoes the architectural qualities of the urban spaces photographed. The demeanour of the models in the studio photographs move between the enacted and un-posed, drawing parallels between people’s uneasy relation to public space in everyday life and how a model finds ‘a way to be’ in the theatrical context of the photo-shoot.

‘Studio/ Location Photographs’ continues my on-going use of photography and film to consider artifice as a condition of everyday life. I am currently developing a new film which plays narrative or psychological readings against the exposure and recognition of the conditions of the production of the works themselves.



Studio/ Location Photographs, Works|Projects, Bristol, UK


Sarah Dobai: Photographies et film, Zurcher Gallery, Paris, France


Sarah Dobai; Phototographs & Filmworks, Kettles Yard, Cambridge, UK
Short Story Piece. Changing Role Gallery, Naples, Italy.


Short Story Piece. 1000 000mph, London. UK. (New projection and bookwork)


What we talk about when we talk about love, Galerie Zurcher, Paris, France


Two on a Party, ArtLab, Imperial College, London, UK
Artists’ Space, New York, USA


On the Nature of Things, with R. Graham, S. Oxsannen & Jacques de la Villegle, Kamloops Art Gallery, Canada
A Fire is Set in the Masters House, Chapter Arts with Chodzko, Price & Dean, Chapter Arts, Cardiff
Ideal 13, Espace Croise, Roubaix, Lille, France
Peeping Tom , Dutch institute Kunsthal KAdE, Netherlands


Splitting in Two, Gimpel Fils, London
Peeping Tom,, curated by Keith Coventry, Vegas Gallery, London


Darkside II - Photographic Power & Violence, Disease & Death Photographed, curated by Ur Stahel, Fotomuseum Winterthur
Now You See It, Café Gallery, Southwark Park
Theatres of the Real, FotoMuseum, with Hunter, Shaffran and Pickering, Antwerp, Belgium
Figuring LandscapesBritish and Australian Film and Video curated by C. Elwes & S. Ball, Touring
exhibition and screening programme. Venues included Tate Modern, Dundee Contemporary Arts,
FACT Liverpool, Chapter Arts Cardiff, Site, Sheffield and Australian venues.


Limited, The Wharf Road Project, London, UK
In the Society of London Ladies. Group, Dispari Dispari, Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy.


Innocence & Experience, Gimpel Fils, London, UK


75 Years of Collecting: Portrait of a Citizen. Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver.
Simon and Sarah, Platform Gallery, London.
Subjectivity and Feminism, Triangle Gallery, Chelsea College of Art & Design


LOOP, International exhibition of Video and film, Barcelona, Spain


Richard Billingham, Sarah Dobai, Valie Export, Joao Penalva,
Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich, Germany.


Sodium Dreams. Group show including P. Huyghe, S. Morris, M. Boyce,
K. Asdam. Bard College, Centre for Curatorial Studies, New York, USA


Commissions East Residency, Jaywick, Nov ‘09-May 2010
International Centre des Recollets Residency and Commission, Paris, Spring 2008.
Delfina Studio Trust Award, 2006-2007
London Artists Film and Video Award from Film London 2006, funded by the Arts Council.
Residency at Delfina Studios, London 2004 – 2006.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: 16 November 2001
Funders: Chelsea Research Fund
Event Location: Entwistle Gallery
Locations / Venues:
LocationFrom DateTo Date
Entwistle, London, UK.16 November 2001
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 09:58
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2013 15:27
Item ID: 1000
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1000

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