Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Sarah Palmer

Mar 16, 2016 - Bobby Davidson

In their own words…

I am compelled to pull apart the photograph, to kill its power of strict representation. I do not desire to destroy the image, but to repurpose it, to release it and contain it anew in the picture plane, that malleable vise. The words of the poets and mages and philosophers ring in my ears as I work, and I begin to think of my sources, my materials, as parts of speech, characters in a grammatical play. These are Waves as sound waves, light waves, ocean waves, pulses of thought and of sensation, each wave’s return slightly altered, moving away from something, or toward it. These are seas leaden or heady; this blows as wind or smoke.

As I have moved, in my practice, farther away from the representational, as I have turned my practice inwards, I sometimes regard myself, as if from afar, making these incredibly personal deconstructions of the figure. Where does this process of re-building leave me, human-womanmaker? This is a process of transformation, of transfiguration, an almost sacrilegious transubstantiation, the conversion of flesh and blood into image and that image back into sculpture, and the object back into a photograph. These multiple layers, this removal from reality that comes with the repurposing and re-copying, is fundamental to the work.

In many ways, this is the most personal work I have ever made, though it does not address the typical – indexical – photographic relationship to the personal. That is, perhaps, it is not the subjects themselves that are so personal but rather the way they are treated; these works come from deep within, they emerge unexpected, as strangers, into my lap.


Sarah Palmer was born in San Francisco and lives in Brooklyn. Her work has been exhibited, most recently in Original Copy at SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2016; Reflected - Works from the Foam Collection at Foam_fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, which holds her work in its permanent collection. She was awarded the 2011 Aperture Portfolio Prize and has had solo exhibitions at Wild Project in 2010, and at Aperture Gallery in fall 2012, both in New York. Her writing has been published variously, including Foam’s What’s Next project in 2011 and Aperture's 2014 volume, The Photographer's Playbook. Her artwork has been published most recently in YO-NEWYORK vol. 2, the artist zine Queen by Silent Face Projects, Conveyor Magazine’s “Alchemy” issue, and London-based Plantation Journal issue number 4, “Sculptural Geometry,” and in late 2015/early 2016 she self-published her first artist book Waves. She is a member of the photography faculty at Parsons The New School for Design and The Pratt Institute. Instagram: @sarah_palmer__