press release

This exhibition featured works from French photographer Lise Sarfati’s two photo series Acta Est and La Vie Nouvelle. In her aesthetically beautiful colour photographs she presented her intense descriptions of Post-Communist Russia and of American teenagers respectively.

After the downfall of the Soviet regime, Sarfati worked for a period of nine years in Russia. This period produced Acta Est which is Latin for 'it is at an end' or 'the play is over', a series of photos of abandoned and run-down industrial sites and administrative offices in parallel with young people. These pictures contain a striking contrast between on the one hand her keen sense of composition and the beautiful colours, and on the other an extreme brutality. In this she confronts us with an image of a country and its inhabitants, trying to exist and survive in a difficult period of transition. This transitory feeling as well as an atmosphere of loneliness and alienation create a connection with her most recent photo series La Vie Nouvelle - the New Life. This in spite of the fact that both the geographic and political contexts of both series are distinctly unique.

In 2003, Sarfati travelled through the U.S., photographing young people in their own everyday surroundings and situations. At one and the same time, she shows us these young Americans as individuals as well as representatives of universal states of mind. With extreme sensitivity toward her portraitees she depicts the complex and fragile teenage identity, a period of life in which the feeling of being both emotionally and physically maladjusted is predominant, and in which these feelings are heightened and lived through with an intense presence.

Lise Sarfati was born in Algeria in 1958 of french parents. She holds a master’s degree in Russian Studies and became a full-time photographer in 1986 when she was designated the official photographer for the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris. She has received grants from both Fiacre, Ministère de la Culture, Paris, and Villa Médicis Hors- les-Murs.

In 1989, Sarfati moved to Russia until 1998. In 1996, she was awarded the Prix Niepce in Paris and The Infinity Award from the ICP in New York. She currently lives and works in Paris.

The exhibition was produced with the museum Domus Artium in Salamanca in Spain and arranged by Magnum photos.


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Lise Sarfati