Photography Now 2017 – Sandra Bacchi

Artist Interview

This is an open series of interviews with the artists in the Photography Now 2017 exhibition.


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Sandra Bacchi – We Are All in This Together #12, 2016

1. Where are you from, and what is your background in photography? How did you get into photography?

I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. I earned my degree in photography at Escola Panamericana de Artes, in 1997. After graduation, I transitioned my focus to cinematography. I worked with experienced directors of photography, first as an assistant, and later on my own projects. In 2001, I attended the Hungarian International Cinematography Workshop D.O.P., taught by Academy Award winner Vilmos Zsigmond and Laszlo Kovacs. It was a life-changing experience for me! In 2012, I moved to NYC with my family and finally returned to my roots, studying photography at International Center of Photography. My parents were filmmakers, so making images and telling stories was part of my childhood. Looking through the viewfinder of my mother’s camera was always magical and mysterious to me. When I was 19 years-old, she gave me her camera and I discovered that photography was not only my passion, but also my way to relate to the world around me.

2. What inspired you to make the work in Photography Now 2017? What is the work about? Please describe one piece, the evolution of the concept, and the process?

We Are All in This Together explores the characteristics of different individuals and the relationships between them while sharing the busiest public spaces in New York City – the subway trains. I’m fascinated by the thin line that divides what is public and what is private in a public space. We Are in All This Together #2 piece, for instance, emphasizes the commonalities between genders and in the everyday behaviors of people commuting in the subway. The pictures were taken without the subjects’ knowledge, in order to achieve the desired spontaneity. I used the camera on my mobile phone to blend more seamlessly into the environment. I took close to 3,200 pictures, during a six month period. The idea of not revealing the faces and to have a respectful ethnology point of view was always planned; but, most other decisions were made while I was editing the images each week. Along the way, I refined the “rules” I used while shooting, such as my position in the train, the times of the day and the week, and the color of the trains’ seats. I learned to wait for the moments when the train was not moving, in order to achiever a sharper image. But the serendipity was my strongest ally for sure! Typology was definitely the best way for me to share my view. Sequencing and processing the photos were the most challenging part of the process.

3. Much of the work in Photography Now 2017 seems to describe a distance between the subject and the viewer, a disconnection, and/or a dystopian situation. How do you think your work relates to these ideas?

By focusing on the lower portion of the subjects’ bodies, I directed the viewers’ attention to body language and physical details, revealing a glimpse of each subject’s personality. By doing that, I intentionally help the viewers to disconnect from the more natural habit of assessing others by their faces.

4. What are you working on now?

I am editing and processing a work I photographed over the summer in Hungary. It’s about my search for my identity and my origins, tracing a connection between my childhood and my daughters’ childhood. My father was Hungarian and going back to where he was born helped me make peace with his death. I am also editing new photos for the Watermelons Are Not Strawberries series and started a research on a new project about self-identity.

5. What is the one photograph you always wanted to make but never could?

When initially pursuing photography, my dream was to become a National Geographic photographer. I wanted to travel the world capturing its people, places and nature. Even though I pursued my personal dream of traveling, my professional career went to a different direction.

General exhibition information:

Photography Now 2017
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Juried by William Ewing

Featured Artists: Lars AndersonSarah AnthonyBen ArnonSandra BacchiJohn BarnardEmily BerlAdam Bernard, Christopher Paul Brown, Tianqiutao Chen, Jennifer Garza-CuenOrestes GonzalezTamar GranovskyAlejandro Loureiro LorenzoJeanette MayZora MurffLaurie PeekCeaphas Stubbs and Ayumi Tanaka.

See full exhibition information or exhibition guide (