Sarah Dobai's work is concerned with the media and the everyday. Using still photography and film, she explores the relationship between the urban environment and studio where fiction, narrative and the performative nature of reality are both constructed and subtly revealed. The film Twenty Second Hold (2012) has recently been exhibited at WORKS/PROJECTS in Bristol, preceded by a set of photographs entitled Studio/Location Photographs (2008-2011) shown at the gallery in 2009. Studio/Location Photographs focus on the shopping mall and explores the impact of these transient spaces of consumption on human behaviour. The unpeopled images of the mall are juxtaposed with images of actors/models taken in a studio. Simple cardboard boxy sets were created – greys, taupe, Xanadu and the characters lounge on and against them in suggestive yet sexless poses.
For Twenty Second Hold, Dobai has constructed another large-scale architectural set, anonymous looking but reminiscent of an urban public space – a corridor or passageway in a shopping centre, sports centre or school hallway. Two attractive young people, a boy and girl in stylish but non-descript American Apparel clothing enact a short looped scene. It is unclear as to whether the action, or non-action we see, is the main event or leftovers from a plot or story that the audience is never made party to. What we do see is the models looking intensely away from the camera's eye, waiting for some sort of cue. The film is compiled of these durational portraits, they appear to be enacting a scene in which they are a couple saying hello or goodbye - a chance fleeting passionless meeting. Obviously not in love, they interact with each other with casual but staged intimacy. The models know they will have to re-adopt their pose and so they wait in lazy professional expectation, limbs draped around each other, waiting for the next studied moment.