Sarah Seené works exclusively with analog photography, and first started shooting with her Polaroid camera in 2011 when she entered the Artazart Polaroid Contest. In her latest series ‘Botanica’ she continues to further her vision to frame imaginative alternate worlds, exploring the themes of loneliness, reality and dreams as she starts a new life in Montreal.
“My first memory of instant photography is very clear. I was about 7 years old and I was alone in my grandmother’s garden, where I spent most of my time as a child. My aunt gave me a Polaroid camera to play with and it was the beginning of my love affair with photography. My work is strongly inspired by my own life filled with poetry and dreams. I infuse my photographs with memories of childhood, loneliness and femininity, and play with the idea of suspended time with worlds I create myself by altering reality.
‘Botanica’ is a new series I shot recently combining superimposed transparencies with Impossible SX-70 Color and Black & White films. I discovered Polaroid films when I was very young. It was fun, like a child could play with a camera. But now it’s different. The emulsion textures of Impossible film have varied over the years and my work has evolved with the different films, especially my dry lift work. This is a very intimate series based on self portraits I started shooting when I arrived in Montréal at the end of June 2015.
The relationship you have with a real camera is different, it’s magical. These films are my tools, my friends. This is not just a distraction, it’s art
The process for this series was made up of 3 steps. First, I took a photograph of myself wearing white or black clothing and standing in front of a white wall. I used my SX-70 camera and a self timer. After that, I walked though the streets of Montréal with my SX-70 to take pictures of the local flora around Québec, especially the Hemerocallis which is incredibly beautiful and has sensational colors. The people in Montréal are taking good care of their gardens, which are usually in front of the houses surrounded by red bricks walls. There are a lot of flowers I’ve never seen in my life and I found this really inspiring. It’s like a wonderful explosion for the senses.
Just before photographing a flower, I frame it whilst having my original portrait picture in hand and think about how I could blend them together using transparency techniques. Then, I assemble the two photographs by separating the positive and the negative sheet from inside the photograph, cleaning the film and making a collage. I also shot some more spontaneous natural moments, such as my shadow on the grass, a white cat asleep under pear trees or the shining blue water of a plastic swimming pool to use as additional layers and fragments of my journey through Montréal.
Flowers are symbolic for me: they are blooming, fresh, and they represent a transition between childhood and a woman’s adulthood, a step between past wounds and new beginning. These pictures crystalize a new step in my life, an evolution. I’m leaving my country to live abroad. I want to link my life with my art and share how I see this wonderful city, how incredibly inspiring and full of beautiful energy it is here.
Instant photography is my favorite medium for storytelling. ‘Botanica’ is like a fairytale. It’s my own little garden I want to immortalise in pictures. The character of the image captures adventures in a small world where scale has become inverted. Some flowers are like doors to pass through, others are curtains to hide behind or whose nectar you can drink with a straw.”