Lise Sarfati: Oh man

27 January – 13 March 2016

Lise Sarfati
27 January – 13 March 2016
CAMERA - Centro Italiano per la Fotografia
Via delle Rosine 18, 10123 Torino

The exhibition

The exhibition – an unrelease project by French artist Lise Sarfati – is curated by Francesco Zanot and it includes a series of about twenty photographs taken in downtown Los Angeles, California, between 2012 and 2013.

The main subjects are isolated men in the urban context. They are not doing anything of importance. Most of the times they are walking. Or they are at a break in the movement. Nevertheless, their presence is evident. Full of energy. Powerful. Regardless of their placing within the picture, they have the leading role. In some sort of update of the humanistic tradition, Lise Sarfati removes any narrative clue and heroic tension from her imagery, giving free rein to the pure appearance in space of a series of individuals.

Deprived of the momentum of a purpose, and without a clear direction, the main characters of this artwork are wandering relentlessly. Unaware of being photographed, they appear to be in precarious positions, while, on the other hand, Lise Sarfati stands steadily in front of them, waiting for days on end for the best moment to take her pictures. The result is a silent dialogue unravelling in front of the spectator and it regulates the transition from the indifference of the representation to the participation of the onlooker.

The only set of this encounter is the city. It takes up the entire surface of every picture, from right to left, from the bottom to the top. The sky – when it makes an appearance – is reduced to a slim geometric cut out in between buildings. Cobalt blue. Typically American for its continuous alternation between brick buildings, patched up tar, metallic grids, and shop signs, the metropolis provides the fixed rhythmic backdrop to the unpredictable actions of men, scattered hither and yon like notes on sheet music. The time of the day is marked by the sudden light of the American West. Clear and violent in the mid hours of the day, it triggers a scene that – a few kilometres from the Hollywood stars – happens all day every day.

This collateral exhibition is part of a long-term journey of CAMERA that wants to bring international experiences in Italy, in order to spark a creative exchange with the Italian scene and to continue a research effort for making this Centre a polestar of photography in the contemporary artistic scene.

Lise Sarfati

Lise Sarfati is a french artist-photographer. She lives and works between Paris and Los Angeles. She has a master degree in russian ( La Sorbonne, Paris ) and did her thesis on the russian–avant garde photography of the 20ies/30ies. She was a former member of Magnum Photos from 1997 to 2011. She is represented by Yossi Milo Gallery in New York and Rose Gallery in Los Angeles since 2005. She has been awarded Prix Niepce in Paris and Infinity Award of International Center of Photography in New York. She had solo exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide including Los Angeles County Museum in L.A, Foam in Amsterdam, Domus Artium, Centro del Arte, Salamanca, Center of Contemporary Art, Vinzavod, Moscow, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, Fotografins Hus, Stockholm, Nikolaî Center of Contemporary Art, Kopenhagen, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, Rose Gallery, Los Angeles, Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, Rome and London. Her work is in collection including LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum, CA, Brooklyn Museum, NY, De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA, Philadelphia Museum of Art , Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, MO, Kansas City , Harry Ransom Center University of Texas at Austin,TX, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. Her earlier period of photographic works carried out in Russia continuosly from 1989 to 1999. In Russia she identifies a very precise and endless psychological spectrum. The projections ,the ambitions associated with the immense space, they way in which they compose these figures play an essential role.

Lise Sarfati worked in the United States since 2003. She has realized seven important series of photographs there. They have been followed by exhibitions and publications. Each of her works makes clear the identity of an approach focused on the intensity of the rapport established with the person photographed, and of that person with the context. A vision in which the individual is environment, a map outlining a perilous cultural geography. The richness of perception is constructed without effects. The compositions are flawless in the simplicity and unity of the image – the style tends to be elementary and clean, avoiding all qualifications, but the traits of each thing and each person trace a hundred thousand folds. The dimension of the interplay of postures is that of a solemn immaturity: the scenery formed by the people and places is the silent crumpling of a dream in which each risks his or her skin. A feminine seduction tinged with fateful coincidences; the beauty of the adolescents looks like a magic spell. Their solitude and strangeness in the world turn the image into an echo chamber inhabited by the photographer, her subject and the viewer.

The New Life (2003).

Immaculate (series, 2006-07)

Austin, Texas (2008).

She (2005-09)

Sloane (2009)

On Hollywood (2009-2010)

Oh Man (2012-2013)


She, Twin Palms Publisher 2012

Austin, Texas, Magnum Photos, 2008.

The New Life / La Vie Nouvelle, Lise Sarfati, Twin Palms, 2005.

Lise Sarfati, Fundación Salamanca Cuidad de Cultura, 2004.

Acta Est, Lise Sarfati, Phaidon, 2000