Born 1958. Lives and works in Paris.
Lise Sarfati took up photography when she was a teenager living in Nice. She saw Nice as a big baroque theater inhabited by flocks of old people in a state of decay and by those on the fringes of society.
At the age of fifteen, Lise Sarfati went to Russia for the first time, where she spent her holidays in Sochi, on the coast of the Black Sea. She subsequently wrote her thesis on 1920s Russian photography and obtained a master’s degree in Russian studies from the Sorbonne.
After working and showing at the Galerie La Fontaine Obscure in Aix-en-Provence, she was hired in 1986 as official photographer of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
She returned to Russia in 1989 and went on to devote nearly a decade of study to this country in full transition. During this period, she received grants from the Ministry of Culture and the Villa Médicis Hors les Murs. In Russia, she met many intellectuals and filmmakers, as well as outcasts of society. She spent three years visually exploring the personal relationships she had with these people before turning her focus to architecture and objects.
The photographs she took in Russia were brought together in the year 2000 in her first book Acta Est. The title refers to the Latin phrase Acta Est Fabula, meaning “the play is over,” which, in ancient times, was announced to invite the audience to retire. The implicit theatricality of her images comes out in the choice of scenes from everyday life, marked by a brutal starkness and emptiness. Paired with the use of bold colors, her photographs are aesthetically and emotionally intense.
After the death of Marguerite Duras in 1996, Lise Sarfati photographed the writer’s apartment and her house in Neauphle-le-Château, naming the series Post factum. These pictures constitute a sort of inventory of intimacy taken from the places where the writer lived and worked.
Together with several intellectuals and photographers, in 1998, Lise Sarfati worked on the book France, les révolutions invisibles, in which each contributor offered his or her personal view of the underlying transformations of French society today.