Behind the artist: Sarah Bahbah

Aine O'Boyle

Credit: Sarah Bahbah

Artist and photographer Sarah Bahbah embraces a style of coming-of-age art that appeals to the Instagram generation through narrative images of self-expression, portraying an overall message of female empowerment.

The 25-year-old Palestinian native grew up in Australia and moved to Los Angeles where her most recent series, F*ck Me, F*ck You, is being exhibited. This series explores the mindset of a young, independent and empowered woman of the twenty-first century, dealing majorly with the themes of self-love and expression of female sexuality.

Bahbah experienced a huge breakthrough in the industry in 2014 following the exhibition of her series, Sex and Takeout. Since then she has developed a huge fan-base, boasting a following of 441 thousand on Instagram. Not only has she developed a cult-like following, brands such as Topshop and Capitol Records have been taken in by Bahbah and the message she is presenting to the world, looking to collaborate with her on creative projects.

Bahbah uses subtitles on much of her artwork to convey two major themes: transparency and indulgence. She remains true to her emotions, exploring all aspects of womanhood from love to heartbreak, indulgence, regret, longing and sexuality, thus spreading a universal message of empowerment to women worldwide, inspiring them to embrace their own femininity.

Society has always had a tendency towards suppressing and shaming aspects of female sexuality and social conditioning has taught women to disregard many of their emotions. However, Bahbah’s is doing exactly the opposite, she is breaking the barriers of what society perceives as the acceptable behaviour of women, preaching a message of self-love and praising the indulgence of the human spirit.

Many of her images leave a person feeling like they have just witnessed a still shot from an indie film or a cult classic, showing that even though her art specifically appeals to the Instagram generation of millennials, it has a timeless and classic nature. Context need not be applied to each individual image as it is a narrative in its own right.

Several famous faces such as Dylan Sprouse, Neels Visser and Cailin Russo have featured in Bahbahs work, each person seemingly playing a character with a narrative built around them. In the most recent series, F*ck Me, F*ck You, Sprouse features in what appears to be a tale of unrequited love.

The artwork focuses and concerns itself with conventional beauty. It can be argued that perhaps Bahbah need diversify in the future, but then perhaps that may compromise the image she is trying to present to the world of the type of artist that she is, what her signature style is and what she represents.

Bahbah herself is representative of the changing nature of art and the various platforms that are now available for artists to get their name out there.

Her own Instagram bio reads ‘You’ve probably seen my art on someone else’s account’, meaning that that through using platforms such as Instagram, artists are more susceptible to plagiarism.