Barebones; The New Wave of the Millennials

By Jo Phillips

Take a moment, and think back to your wild and turbulent 20s. Ever felt that incredible surge of emotions so overwhelming and unfathomable that you have absolutely no words for? Well, now, you may finally find those exact emotions play out in Sarah Bahbah’s cinematic stills, coupled with foreign film-like subtitles: sardonic, whimsical and playful. And just like that, effortlessly, she’s pulled us right in, to sincerely communicate truths – to be completely and utterly transparent.


Portraying teenage angst at its most intimate, stripped-back form, Bahbah’s oversaturated photographs hit so very close to home, depicting every inexplicable feeling we’ve ever felt. Revolving mostly around the themes of romance, sex, heartbreak and coming of age, Bahbah captures moments both devastating yet simultaneously inspiring, making us chuckle and tear-up as well as leaving us with much bittersweet nostalgia to dabble and indulge in. Every individual piece has a story of its own but the the artist’s creation of series allows us to peel back the layers of raw emotions, and reveal a much needed introspection. Not only do we see the illustration of the internal monologue we are so afraid to articulate, but Bahbah goes further and reveals thoughts that we never knew existed.

Bahbah also gives a nod to the French New Wave by the similar choice of shots and by reminiscing its style of storytelling that seeks to express complex ideas in direct yet emotionally engaging ways. This removal from mainstream expression of emotions also echoes that of the New Wave’s urge to express human life, thoughts and emotions in a most genuine manner. Just as films of the New Wave had intended to draw in those out-of-touch, post-war French youths, millennials these days are able to interrelate with their shared plethora of emotions through Bahbah’s visual artworks.


Sarah Bahbah has recently made a “Splash” in the UK art scene with her London debut at Lawrence Alkin Gallery on June 8th, showcasing a snapshot of her highly provocative portfolio. As a result of her sensational breakthrough with the 2014 series ‘Sex And Takeout”, swiftly followed by her sell out at Art Basel Miami in New York City, and along with her booming 559k Instagram account, the visual artist has earned herself a rather cult-like following amongst millennials around the world. So really, it’s no surprise that her audience continues to grow as she paves the way for bold, feminine expression.


The “Splash” exhibition is now on at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery in London until June 22nd.

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