Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society for Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, with support from the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery.
Over the last few years Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s contemporary collection has increased substantially with purchases such as Ai Weiwei’s iconic A Ton of Tea and works by artists including Omer Fast, Shilpa Gupta, Walid Raad, and Imran Qureshi. It is into this contemporary global context that Sarah Dobai’s film and photographs will enter.
Sarah Dobai (b.1965) works across photography, film and video and is interested in the creative process of image-making in cinema and the mass media. Dobai has said of her work that she wants to explore “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.”
In 2004-06 Dobai undertook a residency with Delfina Foundation where she chose Parisian shopping malls in the margins of the city on the peripherique as her object of study. Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, Dobai used this space to examine how the postmodern subject is performative, in the sense that the performance of our public selves and our real selves is always mediated by our identification with mass media imagery. She essayed this idea in the Studio/Location photographs series posing models of all ages in sets reminiscent of the architecture of the malls, resting in lonely corners against isolated columns: a vulnerable lone woman, a slumbering young male, a young couple. The film that followed, Twenty Second Hold, traced the tensions between the young models on location shoots, juxtaposing the professional performances (the titular twenty-second pause) of a moment of photographed intimacy and the relaxed gestures in-between in a double performance.
The works are on display from 30 November 2013 – 4 March 2014 at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in the exhibition City Lives: Contemporary Art in a Changing World