(from left) Sara Galbiati, Peter Helles Eriksen and Tobias Selnaes Markussen

(from left) Sara Galbiati, Peter Helles Eriksen and Tobias Selnaes Markussen

Q&A – Sara, Peter & Tobias


Danish collective Sara, Peter & Tobias shot to fame with a photobook about people's belief in UFO's. Currently working on their new project – The Merge – that will see its Australian premiere at PHOTO 2021, Sara Galbiati, Peter Helles Eriksen and Tobias Selnaes Markussen have answered some of our burning question in advance of participating in PHOTO LIVE.

What started your relationship with photography?

The three of us started our collaboration in 2015. Before that, we all studied Photojournalism from 2004 till 2011 at The Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark.

We were all born observers and creators, so photography was the perfect combination for us.

What is your motivation for making art? How has your practice changed over time?

Our motivation for our projects is to do things our way, in a collective, where everything is possible and we are inspired by the input and ideas that we each bring to the table. That hasn’t changed, we are still good at challenging each other, which pushes our work.

How do ideas relating to 'The Truth’ factor into your practice?

We found out that we shared a common fascination of paranormal subject, and we liked the challenge as photographers trying to document something that we can never prove because there is no solid evidence. Instead, we put different pieces together to try to understand and explain it. Our images are like pieces within a puzzle that point at not the Truth – but something…

In both our previous work, Phenomena and now, The Merge, our images have a touch of fiction, even though all our interviews and photos are 100% based on real people and real places.

We still call it documentary, but we tend to document the question itself rather than to answer it – which is the common practice in documentary photography; you point at something, photograph it and say, “Look, I was there, this is what happened… this is the truth”. We keep everything much more open and we don’t pretend to show you the truth.

In this post-internet age, how do you see the viewer in relation to your artwork?

We don’t know… we are still trying to figure that out. We were born in the 80’s-ish so we are stuck between the analogue and the digital world. We don’t want to leave the analogue world, so we suck at updating things online and exposing ourself and our work on social media platforms.

How do you go about planning your projects?

We always start with a lot of research, then we plan what can be transformed into images, and then we figure out where and how to get those images.

Throughout the process, we share all the research that we encounter individually, we will keep each other updated on things we read, things we watch, books, articles, movies, etc and share the research in folders on Dropbox so we have some kind of shared database in our mind and online. When we get ideas for our projects, they fall back on our similar set of knowledge and understanding of the project’s framework.

How does your lived experience influence your work?

Having an open mind and being curious about your surroundings and the people you meet will make you a better artist.

Who or what inspires you?

Inspiration comes from all sides every day if you have your antennas out. The trouble is finding the time and money to make all the projects you want.

What books are you currently reading?

Three very different books 🙂
Those Who Kills Dreams Never Sleep by Jan Guillou
The Self‑Sufficient Gardener by John Seymour
The Good with the Evil by Lars Von Trier, Edited by Peter Schepelern

What is your favourite website?

Probably Instagram, but it’s very much a love/hate relationship…

What music are you listening to?

We listen to all kind of music, so instead we would like to recommend these Danish artist: When Saints Go Machine, Coco O from Quadron, Kwamie Liv, Jada.

If the work you are presenting at PHOTO 2020 was a song, what would it be?

“The Robots” by Kraftwerk

Sara, Peter & Tobias during the making of The Merge

How are you spending your time with the current social distancing restrictions? Has this motivated you in a way that you might not have expected? Are you working on something new?

We have just been sliding into a new reality, where the days go by very slowly and you see the spring unfold. We have spent more time outside and not in front of a computer – we are sure that our future work will benefit from the pause we gave our brains 😉

That said, we are now really looking forward to starting working again – we love what we do and we have a lot of work to be done.

How do you hope our creative community will overcome this unique challenge?

We hope that new ideas and perspectives will come from this, everything will feel much more powerful next time you experience it – the first visit to a museum after lockdown, a psychical hug from a friend and the next social dinner; you will really observe and feel it, and you can turn those feelings into creating art that touches you.

Do you have any daily rituals or unique customs?

Make a cup of coffee before we turn on the computer.
We should add water and yoga to that practice – maybe next year…;)

Do you have any unrealised projects you would like to work on?

Yes, our next project is about miracles.

What advice would you give to your 15 year old self?

Experiment in any way – there is no one path (luckily).

Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March