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UAL Research Online

Sarah Dobai, Photographs and Filmworks

Dobai, Sarah (2006) Sarah Dobai, Photographs and Filmworks. [Show/Exhibition]

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

My work with photography, video and film has pictured and characterized the qualities of alienation and artifice inherent to contemporary urban experience. Though many aspects of my practice are preconceived, using carefully chosen locations and actors as subjects, the work critically engages with recognisable situations and actual experiences of everyday life. Whilst my approach to photography, film and video has 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.

This exhibition, which contained 15 photographs and 2 film projections aimed to platform and contextualise my recent practice. The show explored two strands of my work; psychological portraiture and a socially engaged approach to picturing the city. The show premiered a specially commissioned two-screen video installation Model 280 which formed a bridge between the two groupings of work represented. This new work enacted a filmic car journey as a metaphor for the relationship between the individual/ the family and the social space around them, particularly reflecting on the role of the car in fashioning and representing ideas about the self. The trajectory of the exhibition as a whole aimed to address broad cultural debates about how the individual’s experience relates to an alienated industrial/post industrial society. This problematic has been a key concern of the theory and practice of photography, film and video in the field of fine art in recent years as witnessed in the works of Jeff Wall (Canada) or Gillian Wearing (UK).

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 after 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
Research Centres No Longer Active > International Centre for Fine Art Research (ICFAR)
Date: 27 May 2006
Funders: Arts Council, Kettles Yard, Chelsea College of Art and Design
Event Location: Kettles Yard, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 11:42
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2012 13:28
Item ID: 1005
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1005

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