“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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