Sarah Mei Herman
Rabobank Dutch Photographic Portrait Prize 2018
1 January 1970
American Vintage Photography Prize
I won the American Vintage Photography Prize 2018 at the 33rd International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères!
30 April 2018
Hyères Festival 2018
25 April 2018
Jimei x Arles 2017
25 November 2017
Stipendium for Established Artists
In 2017 I received a four-year Stipendium for Established Artists by Mondriaan Fund
1 April 2018
Nuit des Images
In June 2017 my work *Julian and Jonathan* was shown as a 3-minute projection at Nuit Des Images - Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. This is the (link: text: link target: _blank) to my projection
1 June 2017
Under construction
**Under Construction**
25 April 2018
Foam Talent
October 2010
March 2014
Under Construction
April 2018
INDIE Magazine # 60 - The Home Issue

Sarah Mei Herman's images traverse the precious vulnerability of adolescence
By Darcie Imbert

‘Between Us’ is an ongoing series of photographs by Sarah Mei Herman from different projects sewn together with the same red thread, each image confronting the transitionary space of youth and illuminating the role of familial relationships in the construction of one’s own identity.

Growing up as an only child, Herman developed a curiosity for sibling-hood and her photography led her in pursuit of a greater understanding of what sibling intimacy meant, she comments, “by photographing them throughout their youth, it seemed I could be a part of it.” The sibling relationships she documents symbolise the multi-faceted meaning of “home” as a concept that extends beyond the four walls that frame your existence.

The use of everyday objects that provide the backdrop for her powerful portraits represent the mudaneness of inanimate items when separated from the individuals that breathe life into them. The intangible entity that transforms a house into a home is demystified by the symbiosis between the subject and their surroundings in Herman’s work. She notes the stains on the carpet that were made by the two brothers photographed in the series, serving as a reminder of their childhood. The surroundings of your upbringing play an important role in the consolidation of personal identity; memories are cued by the physical environment. “For my long-term projects, I choose to photograph inside their houses, because that’s where they share the intimate space of their home,” she remarks. This series unintentionally challenges the boundaries between who we are and where we are. Home is a human construct that refers to the sights, smells and sounds that cultivate emotional connection.

Not only is Herman intrigued by the intimacy among her subjects, she also explores her own emotional connection to them as the image maker. She describes the meditative process of creating photographs and the symbiotic relationship between them: “I work with analogue film and a medium format camera, therefore the process is quite slow.” This approach allows space for contemplation: “a quietness, a stillness, like the sound has disappeared for a moment and that’s why it’s the moment between us. It’s a moment in which someone turns their gaze inside.”

Herman’s photography could be described as documentary, a visual representation of the evolution of self. The formation of identity is intrinsically linked to the “other”; the identical twin sisters act as an interesting example of this in Herman’s work, addressing the taboo of familial intimacy. “They were almost one body, they kissed and hugged each other in a really beautiful way,” she says. Her work boldly traverses the grey area of kinship in adolescence, surveying the boundaries between passionate love eros and brotherly love philia. Adolescence provides a terrain ripe for experiment, granting the experiences that help to construct your relation to “the other” later in life. She comments on this phenomenon as a natural exploration: “I photographed two teenage girls in Ireland that I saw walking hand in hand in the street. They could have been lovers or best friends, yet for me personally, that does not matter. In my practise I do not seek answers, I merely try to capture the moment.”

Adolescence is marked by a constant state of becoming and Sarah Mei Herman captures the fleeting beauty that is amalgamated by the perpetual changes endured in youth. Her images show both resilience and loneliness, comfort and uncertainty. A period of uncontrollable ephemerality, grounded by the relationships and ordinary objects that quilt together a patchwork of self.

1 January 1970

short bio & artist statement

Sarah Mei Herman was born in Amsterdam in 1980. She studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in The Hague, from which she received her BA in 2005. In 2010 she completed her MA in Photography at The Royal College of Art in London. Herman has received several grants from Mondriaan Fund and Prins Bernard Cultuur Fund. In 2010 her ongoing series Julian and Jonathan was selected for the Talent issue of Foam Magazine. Her work has been shown internationally, among others at The National Portrait Gallery in London, at Le Chateau d’Eau in Toulouse, at JIMEI X ARLES International Photofestival 2016 and 2017, and at Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switserland, where her work Julian and Jonathan was screened during Nuit Des Images 2017. Her series Touch was selected for the Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography 2018 where she received the American Vintage Photography Prize 2018. Most recently Herman won the Rabobank Dutch Photographic Portrait Prize 2018.

In her work I explore relationships and intimacy between people. The closeness between them or what sets them apart, and the necessity of physical proximity to others. She often focusses on the intimacy within the family, with a special interest in sibling relationships, which partly comes from the fact that she grew up without and as a child I always wondered what it would be like to have a brother or sister. Now as an adult, she finds myself observing siblings, repeatedly photographing them; trying to get a closer understanding of what this familial intimacy means.
Growing up is an important theme in her work, mainly focusing on young adolescents; on their constant state of becoming; capturing the fleeting beauty of the continual changes they go through on their way to adulthood. Recurring themes in her work are the transitions and continual changes young people go through on their way to adulthood; drawn to the intensity, vulnerability and sometimes loneliness of these stages. An equally recurring theme is the grey area between friendship and love, and the ambiguity of relationships in certain stages of life.

Herman's work is generously supported by Mondriaan Fund

born 26th of April 1980
lives and works in Amsterdam, NL

  • 2008 – 2010MA Photography, Royal College of Art, London
  • 2001 – 2005BA Photography - Royal Academy of Fine Arts, The Hague
  • 1999 – 2000Propedeutics Philosophy - University of Amsterdam
selected solo exhibitions
  • 2020Germano, Kaunas Photography Gallery, Kaunas, LT (upcoming)
  • 2020Germano project, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2019Coalescence, American Vintage Photography Prize 2018, Hyères, FR
  • 2018Coalescence, American Vintage Photography Prize 2018, Paris, FR
  • 2015Screen Touch, Chinese European Art Center, CEAC, Xiamen, CN
  • 2014Un Peu, Beaucoup… La Vie!, Le Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse, FR
  • 2014Between Us, Kahmann Gallery, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2010A Wordless Whisper, Soledad Senlle Art Foundation, Amsterdam, NL
selected group exhibitions
  • 2018Rabobank Dutch Photographic Portrait Prize, Rabobank Utrecht, NL
  • 2018Confusing Private and Public, 3rd Beijing Photo Biennial, CN
  • 2018Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography (upcoming)
  • 2017Jimei x Arles: East West Encounters, International Photofestival, Xiamen, CN
  • 2017Rolling Snowball #10, Datong Museum, Datong, CN
  • 2017Oscillation, Le Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse, FR
  • 2017Rolling Snowball #8, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Xiamen, CN
  • 2017Bellamy Kabinet, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2017Making Waves, Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2017Cloud gallery, Zine Launch, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2017Quietude, Exp12, Berlin, DE
  • 2016Jimei x Arles: East West Encounters, International Photofestival, Xiamen, CN
  • 2016Gravity, De Punt, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2016Haute Photography, Las Palmas, Rotterdam, NL
  • 2015 – 2016Intimacy, Seelevel Gallery, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2015Rolling Snowball # 6, CEAC, Djupivogur, Iceland, IS
  • 2015Etonnantes Affinités, 40 years collection Chateau d’Eau, Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse, FR
  • 2015Young in Prison, exhibition + photo auction Christies, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2014The Folk Revisited, Volkshotel, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2014Photo España, Surprising Affinities, Fundacion Antonio Saura, Cuenca, ES
  • 2014Young in Prison, exhibition + photo auction Christie’s, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2013Keep on dreaming, New York Photofestival, US
  • 2013Only You Only Me BIP, Centre Wallonie – Bruxelles, Paris, FR
  • 2012Film & Foam, collaboration with Kim Boske, & Foam, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2012Flavours, Kahmann Gallery, NL
  • 2012Only You Only Me, 8th Int. Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts, Musée d’Art Moderne, Liege, BE
  • 2012Frisse Blik, Kahmann Gallery, NL
  • 2011Trust, De Balie, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2011Landgoed de Horst, Driebergen, NL
  • 201115th International Biennale of Young Artists, Thessaloniki, GR
  • 2010Talents of The Royal College of Art, Kahmann Gallery, Amsterdam,NL
  • 2010Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
  • 2010UK Young Artists, Derby,UK
  • 2010Signature Art Awards, Degree Art Gallery, London, UK
  • 2010Art Works Open, Barbican Arts Group Trust, London, UK
  • 2010Renaissance Photography Prize, Hospital Private Members Club, London, UK
  • 2009Hal Silver, Russian Club Gallery, London, UK
  • 2008Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF), SG
art fairs
  • 2019Art Rotterdam, We Like Art, NL
  • 2017Art Rotterdam, We Like Art, NL
  • 2016Unseen Photofair, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2015Slick Attitude Artfair, Paris, FR
  • 2014Unseen Photofair, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2013Pan Amsterdam, NL
  • 2013Scope Basel, CH
grants & awards
  • 2019Project Grant, Amsterdams Fonds Voor de Kunsten (AFK)
  • 2018Rabobank Dutch Photographic Portrait Prize
  • 2018American Vintage Photography Award
  • 2017 – 2020Stipendium Established Artists, Mondriaan Fonds
  • 2014Flexible Project Grant, Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdam
  • 2013Fixed Project Grant, Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdam
  • 2009Flexible Project Grant, Fonds BKVB, Amsterdam
  • 2009Royal College of Art Bursary, London, UK
  • 2009Young Talent Grant, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdam
  • 2008Flexible Project Grant, Fonds BKVB, Amsterdam
  • 2008Royal College of Art Bursary, London, UK
  • 2007Stipendium Emerging Artists, Fonds BKVB, Amsterdam
  • 2019Project Grant, Stichting Stokroos, Amsterdam
  • 2018INDIE Magazine, Home, Issue 60, Autumn 2018, DE
  • 2018GUP International Photography Magazine, Transition, Issue #56, NL
  • 2016Der Greif, Issue #9, DE
  • 2014Photo World, Best European Contemporary Photographers, written by Dr. T. Rosenstein, CN
  • 2014Collect Magazine, April issue, BE
  • 2014New Dawn Paper, Volume 1, X Publishers, NL
  • 2012Gup NEW, Dutch Photography Talent, X Publishers, NL
  • 2012Tableau Fine Arts Magazine, Hollandse Liefde in Luik, April issue, BE
  • 2011BCJEM - XV Biennale de la Méditerranée, Symbiosis? GR
  • 2011Nido Magazine, Hamburg, October issue, DE
  • 2011The Art Economist, Artist to watch, Volume 1 / issue 3, US
  • 2011Dear Dave Magazine, Swimsuit issue, March issue, US
  • 2010Foam Magazine - Portfolio publication in Foam Talent # 24, interview by Marc Feustel, NL
  • 2017Nuit des Images, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, CH
  • 2014Spotlight – 5 years of Foam Talent, Felix & Foam, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2014Voies Off Festival, Night projection, Archbishop’s Palace courtyard, Arles, FR
  • 2014Voies Off Festival, Night projection, Archbishop’s Palace courtyard, Arles, FR
  • 2014Voies Off Festival, Night projection, Archbishop’s Palace courtyard, Arles, FR
  • 2014Spotlight – 5 years of Foam Talent, Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, FR
  • 2011Voies Off Festival, Night projection, Archbishop’s Palace courtyard, Arles, FR
artist talks & teaching
  • 2016Pechakucha, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Xiamen, CN
  • 2015Artist Talk: Seelevel Gallery, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2015Artist Talk: Kaunas College of Art, Kaunas, LT
  • 2015Workshop at Art College, Xiamen University, Xiamen, CN
  • 2015Artist Talk: “Van Gogh Talk”, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, NL
  • 2012 – 2016Various workshops at Photo Academy Amsterdam, NL
  • 2014Artist talk: C-Platform, Xiamen, CN
  • 2014Artist talk: University Xiamen, Art College, Xiamen, CN
  • 2012Workshop at Amsterdam Centre for Photography (ACF), Amsterdam, NL
  • 2011Artist talk:Leeds College of Art, Leeds, UK
  • 2010Artist talk: University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Rabo Art Collection, Rabobank, NL
  • Villa Noailles, Hyères, FR
  • Le Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse, FR
  • Kahmann Gallery, NL
  • MIAP Art Foundation, NL
  • MK Gallery, Rotterdam, NL
  • Several private collections
  • 2016Artist in residence at Kaunas Gallery, Kaunas, LT
  • 2015Artist in Residence at Kaunas Gallery, Kaunas, LT
  • 2014 – 2015Artist in Residence at CEAC, Xiamen, CN