Materials: Metal and resin, year: 2017
The photographic collages on the surface of each sculpture were previously captured inside the same shape using the principles of a pinhole camera, also known as a camera obscura.
The sculptures are made out of steel, copper and brass and were treated, on their interior surfaces, with a light sensitive emulsion. Siba Sahabi then exposed these surfaces to light through three to six pinholes per object and developed the black and white images in a darkroom. After coating the photographs with resin each camera obscura was finally re-assembled with the photographs facing outwards. The final sculptures simultaneously embody both states: apparatus and work of art.

Siba Sahabi's cameras—taking the form of abstract pyramids—express the interaction between Middle Eastern and European culture through art and science. Her work is an homage to the scientist and philosopher Alhazen, who lived and worked in Cairo about 1000 years ago, and is considered to be the father of optics. Alhazen made significant contributions to the principles of optics and visual perception based on his observations of the camera obscura, his metaphor for human perception. His knowledge had a tremendous influence on European art history, particularly on the revolutionary linear perspective. The Italian Renaissance artists first had to understand how the human eye perceives a three-dimensional image before they could create a precise representation of it on a two-dimensional surface.

Following Alhazen’s footsteps, Siba Sahabi spent four weeks in Egypt photographing modern-day Cairo.

The visual outcome is both permanent and temporary: the photographic images of Cairo express the historical connection while the reflective coating will always mirror the contemporary surroundings.

Limited edition of: 9 + 3 AP
photography by Thomas Aangeenbrug
Obscura is realized with the kind support of the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Stichting Stokroos and the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo.

Filmmaker Chris Rijksen captured Siba Sahabi's latest project Obscura in a six-minute documentary (see below).

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