Lise Sarfati (b. Oran, Algeria, 1958) is a French photographer whose portraiture is recognised for its enigmatic quality. Combining snapshot and arranged tableau, Lise has developed a highly idiosyncratic, filmic aesthetic.
Lise graduated from the Sorbonne with an MA in Russian Studies in 1979. From 1989 to 1998, she lived in Russia, creating images which were compiled into her first major body of work, Acta Est (2000, Phaidon).
According to Lise, her ‘work exists at the edge of reality and fiction.’ Focusing on central characters – often young people – Lise avoids concretised narratives and opens space for viewer interpretation.
In 2003, Lise photographed teenagers across the U.S. The series which emerged – The New Life (2005, Twin Palms Publishers) – affirmed her interest in representing ‘young characters and their feeling of being out of step with the world.’
In subsequent series, such as Austin, Texas (2008), On Hollywood (2010) and She (2012), Lise has further explored her interest in psychogeography, feminine identity, and the everyday.
Lise’s work has attracted international critical acclaim and is held in several major public and private collections, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; LACMA, Los Angeles; SF MoMA, CA; Brooklyn Museum, New York; MEP, Paris (2002), Fotografins hus, Stockholm (2009), Nicolaj Center of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2006) and The Photographer’s Gallery, London (2005) to name a few.
She has earned several prestigious awards including the Prix Niepce (1996) and the ICP Infinity Award (1996). Lise was a member of Magnum Photos from 1996 – 2011.