Sarah Seené lives in a world of her own. She actually lives in Poitiers, France - but in her art she beckons us to her private world, the tantalizingly cordial Welcome to Sarahland.
Born near the Swiss border in Belfort, France, she experienced her first inspirations for photography in her grandmother’s garden at the age of seven. The familiar, heartwarming moments of childhood—a shadow on the grass, a sleeping cat, a wading pool—is what she sought to capture. As she grew up, she studied literary arts, theater makeup, and cinema, along with instant photography. A Polaroid contest in Paris introduced her to the theme “your own universe,” and a Polaroid 636 Close-Up camera from her aunt finally solidified her photographic path.
She still uses the 636 from time to time but prefers her SX-70 with Impossible Project PX 680 Cool, PX 600 Silver Shade UV Black Frame for superimpositions, and PX 680 Color Protection, as seen here.
Seené intentionally spends most of her time and creative effort on the direction and staging of a single shot. She finds a particular fascination in the difference between the time it takes to stage a shot and the time the film takes to develop. Even after the engineered image has developed, her creative process is hardly finished. She often adds a great deal of aesthetic content in post-production, superimposing images, decorating, and incorporating poetic descriptions. The resulting art is so rich in depth and detail that it appears to have an implicit history that flows from her personal experiences, both past and present.
Seené rejects the basic assumption of classic aesthetic clarity and operates instead on the basis of blur and sentiment. She uses loved ones as her models and stages them in ambiguous ways in order to strip them of stereotypes. Typically she presents her models with their eyes closed to create a sense of distance and timelessness; her male models are often shirtless in order to depict them as unconventionally vulnerable. She aims to preserve the memories and emotions that inspire her but to remove their relation to time by using childish flair, difficult-to-date wardrobes, and simple natural settings. Adding a mixture of dreaminess and childlikeness, with a touch of fearfulness, Seené creates a seamless connection between the perceptual lens in her mind and the one in her camera, offering an atmosphere that is at once poetic and anxious.
Seené’s work has been exhibited in Montreal, London, Amsterdam, Milan, Berlin, parts of the US, and all over France. She is a member of The 12.12 Project and World Wide Women; look for more of her work on Tumblr and Facebook!