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Art

Meet Sarah Bahbah | The artist reveals her unapologetic self in new series “3eib”

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Palestinian, Australian-raised and LA-based, artist Sarah Bahbah knows well the struggle of identity. Through art, Bahbah found a mean of expression that helped her shaped the woman she is today: “a fully realized human being”.

 

“Sex & Takeout” her infamous series that brought her international recognition and fame was just the beginning. A video clip for star DJ Kygo, a campaign with Gucci and now her own muse for the first time, Bahbah knows how to break boundaries while remaining honest, fierce and more than ever, unapologetic. JDEED spoke to the artist about “3EIB”, her latest production that includes a lot of firsts: Arabic subtitles, evoking her origins but must and foremost, introducing herself to the world. Meet Sarah.

 

 

By Cynthia Jreige

 

 

 

 

Hello SarahCongratulations on your new series “3EIB”, which is incredibly powerful, especially for fellow young Arab women. When did you have the light-bulb moment of introducing the public to a subject we had never seen before: yourself? 

 

Sarah Bahbah (SB): Using myself as the subject in this recent series is the epitome to all the truths I have been fighting for. My art deals with vulnerability and emotional liberation, it’s all part of my effort to be myself fiercely and to live boldly. At a certain point, I came to realize that there was a necessary step in my growth that I was not facing.

I was advocating for personal truths and honesty, but I was saying it all hidden behind another person. I was protecting myself out of shame and fear. I kept my body and my internal thoughts separate because I was not able yet to look at myself in complete reality.

 

 

 

 

Not only is the series’ title an Arabic word, you’re also using Arabic subtitles for the first time. Was it important for you that Arab women could relate to “3EIB!” and perhaps accept themselves and their emotions better through the different scenes you’re portrayed in? 

 

SB: Totally, this series was made for Arab women. All my art is born from my experiences and those are experiences attached to my Western Arab identity. It’s not to say that this series is inaccessible, but to truly understand the confusion, the complexities, the humour, and the risk, you have know the its roots. There is very few public conversations about the nuanced experience to being an Arab woman in the West, so it was important for me to help build authentic representation.

 

 

 

 

You’ve worked with international brands such as Gucci, shot international artists for major magazines, held successful exhibitions…What is for you the definition of success and where do you want to take yours, ultimately? 

 

SB: In defining success, there is of course an element of being able to support myself. The main way I define success is in my confidence to live my truth. To me, success is making the choice for myself, and to do this honestly will always lead me down the right path.

 

 

“There is very few public conversations about the nuanced experience to being an Arab woman in the West, so it was important for me to help build authentic representation.”

 

 

 

 

We read your really moving and brave interview on Teen Vogue where you expressed the child sexual abuse you’ve suffered as well as the physical and mental responses your body and mind have had over the years. Gladly it also mentioned that you’re now in a great place; What do you believe were the key elements on your quest to well-being and finding inner peace? And how is “3EIB!” helpful in what can be an ongoing mission? 

 

SB: There were two key elements that brought me to this point of happiness. The first was admitting to myself that I was deeply hurting, that I was unable to care for myself, and that I was needed help out of my struggle. The second key element was pushing myself through years of intense therapy. Therapy helped me reflect on my life and in the process taught me how to release myself from my restrictions and traumas.

In its place, therapy helped me set up foundations that I believe in. Because of this, everything that I choose to invest in comes from a place of intention and not obligation or fear. In this way, 3EIB is a reminder to all the hard work I pushed myself through. This series is a marker of the moment that I totally stepped into myself as a fully realized human being.

 

 

You’re not currently represented by a gallery; what are the challenges it induces and what would be your advices to other independent artists out there? 

 

SB:  I am not represented by personal choice. I chose to go independent and step away from the galleries because I realized I had everything I needed to go out on my own. My advice would be take what you can from the traditional art world, build your name, build your collectors and then dip and go out on your own when you’ve built your foundation.

 

 

Discover the full project on Sarah’s Instagram, here