MISFiT | Sarah Bougsiaa. Hoodies for Beirut, vulnerability in photography, and finding inspiration in the Quran.
"I’m a very sensitive introvert with lots to say"
This year has been defined by uncertainty, adaptation, and endurance. In other words, it’s what I hope MISFiT has come to represent. The work of multidisciplinary creatives - hard to box in, defined by their indefinitiveness - is all about the beauty of uncertainty, the value of adapting, the rewards of endurance.
In the last MISFiT newsletter of 2020, I caught up with someone I’ve been following and admiring for a very long time. It was a pleasure to speak to Sarah about her work because she sums up MISFiT’s ethos so perfectly.
I hope you find her words as inspiring and insightful as I did, and thank you for being a reader, helping my little platform to grow and find its footing!
Enjoy and see you next time,
WHO: Based in Barcelona, Sarah is a stylist and multidisciplinary creative working in textiles, graphics, photography, film, and even music. She’s best known as SerahBoom however, an artistic persona which she describes as encapsulating and documenting the “multi-perspective vision of a single person living between cultures”. In this regard, Sarah draws inspiration from her Libyan-Polish heritage to re-assign a power to not belonging, giving power to identity and cultural confusion.
WHAT: Sarah has had work published in the likes of Azeema and Neo2. Her work emanates the beauty of confusion she describes; through the lens and through styling, she seems to capture her subjects humanity in a beautifully colourful and celebratory way whilst maintaining a sense of serentiy. I love Sarah’s dedication to emulate details of her roots in new and experimental ways.
Image courtesy of Sofia Suarez.
D: I'm interested to learn about how you got into the arts. When did you start getting into using all these mediums and what inspired you to create in the first place?
To be honest, I think I got it genetically, my family has always been artsy! I’ve been creating since I remember! I also studied Industrial Design and Visual Communication at Uni. I think the inspiration comes from within first, I’m a very sensitive introvert with lots to say so I guess these are just ways of expressing myself.
“I always end up transmitting a certain message through what I do as opposed to just making pretty stuff”
You explain that you're a multidisciplinary artist of Libyan-Polish origin and based in Barcelona. You must have such a wide scope of experience from various cultures now; tell me, how do you use the experience and knowledge of being within multiple cultures within your artistic work?
I would say by using perspective, I always end up transmitting a certain message through what I do as opposed to just making pretty stuff, if you know what I mean. It’s hard to explain how, but it just comes out naturally. My work is basically a blend of all these elements that influenced me throughout my life.
What do you find most frustrating about the creative industry, if anything? And on the flip side, what do you love most about the creative industry and being a creative?
Wow, where to start… The most frustrating I suppose, would be when you are undervalued and start questioning yourself, it could be destructive to your own creativity, as well as the classism, stigmatization and lack of inclusivity in different areas of the industry, I mean supposedly it’s the “creative” industry so you shouldn’t have the feeling of “trying to fit in” or feel like your not enough, every single creative brings a different experience to the table, the battle of egos just kills the essence of creating. This is something I see very often not just from my personal experience. What I love most is the diversity, the exchange of energies, connections and friendships you create through the process.
Tell me a bit about your Freedom Fighter hoodies; why did you choose the medium of fashion to express solidarity with Beirut? And what do you think about using creativity to show solidarity with social justice causes?
As a diaspora child, as I am sure you can relate - I was always forced to use a universal language to be understood, so I believe fashion is one of those mediums that can reach and touch many. Everyone puts clothes on every single day, it's a part of us, and can express a lot about who we are and what we stand for, especially in these times where almost everything is political. I think that being creative is very important when it comes to solidarity with social justice causes, it is way bigger than just clothes, it’s about liberation, relief and bringing about a community that shares common values, helps others and grows together - which is my general aim with what I do.
On top of this, styling and clothing is clearly a strength for you - can you tell me a little more about what is so exciting about styling as a mode of creativity?
Thank you! I guess the excitement lays in infusing parts of my identity and value into someone else, sharing that energy and creating a whole new universe. I often hear "I feel good energy and power when I wear your stuff" - that makes it so much more fun and fulfilling.
“The wide cultural spectrum and layers of life’s experiences are so hard to define that they somehow became my strength”
Tell me more about 'cant define me'. How do you draw strength creatively from being difficult to define?
Metaphorically speaking, the earth’s power derives its strength from a variety of elements which we can hardly define in simple words. Applying that to my case - the wide cultural spectrum and layers of life’s experiences are so hard to define that they somehow became my strength, I hope that comparison is clear! In terms of "cantdefine.me" - it was initially a space where I feature a variety of my work in different fields (photo, video, design, etc.) and not narrowing myself down to one title, so the name just came up naturally. As of right now, I am working on how to connect that area with my fashion project (Serah Boom) and just creating one solid platform for my work and perhaps other creatives as well!
“Just the intimate and personal space of a person, their eyes and facial features speak to me. There is a certain vulnerability in the moment you come closer with your camera to shoot someone…”
Your photography is beautiful and I can't help but notice you work almost entirely using portraits. Is this intentional? What draws you to the portrait as a mode of photography?
Thanks so much and it's interesting you ask because just recently I realized my focus was mainly on portraits when it was never really intentional but it's what I enjoy most. Portraits are pretty special, just the intimate and personal space of a person, their eyes and facial features speak to me. There is a certain vulnerability in the moment you come closer with your camera to shoot someone, you can grab so much information and their essence from that specific instant. I think this mode of photography has a lot to do with who I am as well, I love real relationships and getting to know people and their history. I never shoot random individuals for my projects, it's always someone I have a connection with or is special to me somehow and I feel portraits can manifest that in a beautiful way.
Lastly! I always ask my MISFiTs to recommend our readers some things they've been enjoying recently; what are some things you've been watching, reading, listening to, or doing that have inspired you lately?
Lately, I have been spending a lot of time by the sea which has given me so much pleasure and gratitude, and apart from that I have been working on improving my classical Arabic and digging deeper into the meaning of the Quran which has been a tremendous inspiration and mind-blowing experience even though I have practised Islam my whole life, I feel like it is constant research and depending on which moment in life you find yourself in you learn something new. I highly recommend it not only for Muslims to further educate our spiritual journey but also for others as a lecture full of wisdom.
Check out Sarah’s 30 minutes of hope mix here.