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Sarah Dobai

Senior Lecturer Fine Art - BA
Chelsea College of Arts
Researcher Research
Sarah  Dobai


Sarah Dobai works with photography, film and video, she has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and America.

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, 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 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. 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 focuses 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, the construction of which 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 ongoing 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.

Research Outputs

Art/Design item





Current research students

  • Alice Evans, The Dissociated Image in Contemporary Photography. (Lead supervisor)