They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if the most-followed person in the world on Instagram has been accused of copying your work, you must be doing something right. This is the position in which artist and influencer Sarah Bahbah currently finds herself. The 26-year-old, who herself boasts more than 550k followers, recently received over 2,000 notifications from people alerting her to Selena Gomez's new video, which they claimed looked startlingly like her work.
It's hard to deny similarities between the aesthetic of Gomez's video for "Back To You" and Bahbah's work. Palestinian-born, Australian-raised Bahbah is known for the witty, irreverent subtitles on her viral cinematic photography, and even describes herself as a writer first, artist second. Much like Bahbah's work, Gomez's song lyrics are subtitled over dreamlike, retro-style shots of her pining after a mystery man who she claims will always have a place in her heart, despite her better judgment.
Similarly, Bahbah's work delves into the intimate psyche of millennial women: exploring themes like love, sex, fear of commitment, a playful ambivalence towards life and the paradox of wanting intimacy but craving isolation. The artist is about to make her London solo debut with her latest collection, Splash, a provocative new series of cinematic photographs with typically relatable subtitles. Refinery29 UK spoke to her ahead of the launch.