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sizes vary
B&W white film negatives
(generated from digital images)
printed with b&w photo emulsion spread on
color paint fragments collected
from Jerusalem’s Old City house walls

Watch 'In the Darkroom with Steve Sabella' a short documentary that sheds light on 38 Days of Re-collection
Watch 'Fragments from our Beautiful Future' exhibition teaser







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38 days of recollection  38 days of recollection 38-days-of-recollection
38 days of recollection    



Published by Kerber Verlag, May 2017
Published by Hatje Cantz in collaboration with the Akademie der Künste Berlin

Installation Shots
Nel Mezzo del Mezzo Installation  Nel Mezzo del Mezzo Installation Nel Mezzo del Mezzo Installation
Archaeology of the Future Installation Archaeology of the Future Installation Archaeology of the Future Installation
Layers Installation Layers Installation Layers Installation

Featuring 38 Days of Re-collection at The Bumiller Collection, curated by Taswir Projects


Beyond Finitude: Steve Sabella’s 38 Days of Re-Collection
Fragments from our Beautiful Future
By T.J. Demos
May 18, 2017

But of course the images also make apparent the violence of loss, manifested in material, aesthetic, and phenomenological terms. What we have here are allegories of appearance and disappearance, a cycle that translates the pain of loss into the memory of possession, the trauma of fragmentation into the relief of completion, and vice versa.

An Aesthetics of Dis/Placement: Steve Sabella's 38 Days of Re-Collection
Fragments from our Beautiful Future
By Ella Shohat
May 18, 2017

Here the map becomes a signifier without a referent, a simulacrum of simulacra, a token of powerlessness and the arbitrary nature of maps. In a kind of premonition about the overpowering force of maps, the scraped fragment evokes both roots and routes… A rich intersectional past of Jerusalem, with its shared aesthetic of house and home by neighbors belonging to various religious and ethnic communities, is conjured up through Sabella’s fragments. Within a multi-chronotopic perspective, the series takes the viewer on an imaginary return to a disappeared time and place. But by actively joining fragments from different houses, the artwork remixes the old fragments into new neighboring aesthetic units. From the remains, new possibilities are composed. Perhaps only through such acts of vivid recollection of places/times, of “plurilog,” can a reimagined conviviality be pieced together anew.

From the Proelegomenon of Steve Sabella: Photography 1997 - 2014
Fragments from our Beautiful Future
By Hubertus Von Amelunxen
May 18, 2017
They look ghostly; are the absence of presence and the presence of absence, and it is hard to decide which place or time they belong to… These are splinters of time, splinters of existence, and in their fragile materiality they carry within them proximity and distance, at one and the same time.

Collecting Notes to and for the Future
Fragments from our Beautiful Future
By Nat Muller
May 18, 2017

Moreover, focusing on the house’s contents rather than its outward facade suggests that we as viewers become privy to that which is usually kept from sight, is untold and unseen. Palestinian grief and loss haunts these occupied houses. Subtly Sabella unearths this. His strategy is a paradoxical one though, and in its own terms, one of displacement… Though this is a defiant gesture against erasure, it also shows the difficulty of Palestinian memory being preserved at the locus delicti. Sabella has to first transform these shards of wall into objects of the past and undo them from their current ontology as functioning walls. In fact, by peeling the plaster off the wall, he cuts short their timeline. No longer do they stand witness to history; now they have become history. It is a reversed archaeology of sorts.

Fragments from our Beautiful Future
Fragments from our Beautiful Future
By Almút Sh. Bruckstein
May 18, 2017

Steve Sabella’s 38 Days of Re-Collection is comprised of black-and-white photographs imprinted upon colored shards of paint. Peeled from the walls of houses in the Old City of Jerusalem, including the house in which Sabella was born, the fragments present a unique archive of personal memory and displacement. What appears to be findings from an archaeological dig are in essence pieces of filmic illusion: we see interiors, kitchen utensils, domestic galleries of family portraits, toys and other personal items from an Israeli household residing in an early-20th-century Arab house. The original owners escaped in 1948 with their belongings seized and their estate occupied by the State. Sabella‘s photographic fragments, shards of a mural, contain detailed patterns, shadows of floor tiles typical for the elaborate architecture of the “Arab house”—in doing so, the series claims the artist‘s own “law of return.” Steve Sabella‘s pieces of the Old City quite physically inscribe the occupation into his own body, while at the same time mending what has been painfully rent apart.

Fragments from our Beautiful Future Introduction
By Jill Bumiller
May 18, 2017

Sabella’s archaeological-seeming fragments, peeled from the Old City walls of his native Jerusalem with a surgeon‘s care and precision, reach deeper into layers of time and memory. He then awakens them, bringing them back to life through his photography. In the first moments of viewing them, one catches oneself wondering if they aren’t actually antique depictions. The onlooker falls silent at their vivid appeal, to then give way and sink into the fragments. Only the silence itself, one that allows a contemplative air to resonate and breathe, seems to do them justice.

The Parachute Paradox: An Artist's Law of Return
Transcript of ICI Berlin Book Launch Introduction
By Almút Sh. Bruckstein
October 18, 2016
ICI Berlin

In this old-Jerusalem-house-wall project, Steve Sabella works through layers of paint, layers of life, layers of memory, and layers of injuries, quite materially taking down, inverting, and reversing the occupation. This way, Steve Sabella literally inscribes into his work his own specific law of return.

Re-constructing Dasein: The Works of Steve Sabella
By Charlotte Bank
Institute for Middle East Understanding
March 28, 2016
One might see 38 days of re-collection as the completion of a circle. Jerusalem, the city of Steve Sabella’s birth and upbringing, the city he sought to re-think in the early project Identity, this over-inscribed piece of land that seems to have haunted the artist for so long, now appears in the light of Sabella’s new image-research. Coming to terms with his uprootedness and “growing roots in the air” as he himself says, has enabled the artist to return to his native city with an approach that is at once disinterested, almost scientific in the dissection of its visual elements, and at the same time highly personal in its concern with the small objects of everyday use. Through his investigation of the visual palimpsest that is the history of Jerusalem and the everincreasing layers of images created and imagined about the city, Steve Sabella has succeeded in asking one essential question. Is the relationship between image and reality relevant?


Why Paris' First Festival of Arab Photography is more Important than Ever

By Olivia Snaije
January 12, 2016
Berlin-based Palestinian artist Steve Sabella, who has said art was his "journey towards freedom", is exhibiting at IMA. His series "38 days of Re-collection" comprises photographs printed on paint fragments collected in Jerusalem's Old City, examining the theme of former Palestinian homes now occupied by Israelis.

"Art gives small doses of awareness, and the more doses one gets, the more informed we become about our world and the systems that run it," says Sabella. "Ai Weiwei is one clear example of how much awareness he has raised globally about injustices seen through his eyes."

FRANCE 24 - Encore!
By Eve Jackson
Feature of 1st Biennial of Arab Photography, with interview of Steve Sabella
November 12, 2015

The Arab World Photographed by a Pioneering Biennale (French)
By Siegried Forster
Feature of 1st Biennial of Arab Photography, with interview of Steve Sabella
November 11, 2015

Steve Sabella, “My Art Is Not About Palestine! It’s About My Life.”
By Khelil Bouarrouj
Palestine Square - The Blog of the Institute for Palestine Studies
March 6, 2015
Palestine Sqaure
While Jerusalem may be “in exile,” the 2014 project 38 Days of Re-collection explored the idea of loss and permanence in the city.

Shifting Sands: Photography and Beyond
By Trent Morse
March 2015
Through his art, Sabella grapples with life in exile, with its distorting and destructive consequences. His is an art of understanding; it is poetic and suppresses neither expulsion nor salvation.

New Constellations for Steve Sabella
January 2015
It was a busy year for Berlin-based Palestinian artist Steve Sabella, with 2014 seeing four exhibitions and a monograph (Steve Sabella: Photography
1997–2014 by Hatje Cantz)... Layers (21 September–21 October) at CAP Kuwait featured the new series Independence (2013) and 38 Days Of Re-Collection (2014) alongside Metamorphosis (2012) and Exit (2006) alongside a book launch on the opening night.


Steve Sabella: An Encounter
Karin Adrian von Roques
Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue (The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona)

Archaeology of the Future Catalogue

Brought into the light, they show an unexpected result. The newly created objects are like found pieces of a time that tells of the many-faceted past that exists in our present and yet cannot be pinned down to any specific era. "With those tile-like structure images, people think at first that these are found objects, almost archeological artifacts - Steve explains - but you and I know that they are an illusion."



Discoveries of a Mental Journey
By Beatrice Benedetti
Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue (The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona)

Archaeology of the Future Catalogue

Steve’s trip, it could be said, was simply an expedition, with discoveries and restoration, the only difference being that the key value of the objects he found is not the rediscovery of a lost time, but rather the discovery of an original idea that is preserved for the days to come.



Beyond Palestine
Malu Halasa
Layers Exhibition Catalogue (Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait)


Some fragments show decorative Roman and Mediterranean motifs from tiled floors, or a blurred outline of an old fashioned Palestinian nuclear family. There are ghostly images of a traditional kitchen, the lone teakettle or clusterings of cutlery. All of the fragments attest to the lives lived, lost and forgotten within those spaces. This is a highly charged emotional work, which has at its essence time travel: exile and return, reconstruction of homeland and the past, but above all, the impermanence of the human condition.



Abed Al Kadiri
Layers Exhibition Catalogue (Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait)


For 38 Days of Re-collection (2014) he revisited Jerusalem, and ultimately presents us with one of the most important projects of his career. In my opinion this work challenges traditional concepts of photography as a reflection of reality and record of history...
These pieces reflect the tenderness and vulnerability that come after the landmarks and culture of one’s homeland are replaced by the extraneous and oppressive components that represent the occupation. But walls do not forget – their memory is resilient. Many years ago good people lived in this home, the smell of their coffee and cigarettes still linger; one can hear their footsteps and the the melody coming from the old oud: the morning light casting a shadow of a mother’s hands holding green olives onto the tiled floor. These traces left by the light were waiting to be discovered.


Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014
By Hubertus Von Amelunxen

The three cycles created between 2004 and 2014 [Exit, Till the End and 38 Days of Re-collection] have an archaeological and anthropological dimension. Just as the hands in Exit resemble an inventory and a museum presentation of human fragments, the two other cycles also resemble careful removals of living circumstances, residues, at particular historically verifiable times...

These are splinters of time, splinters of existence, and in their fragile materiality they carry within them proximity and distance, at one and the same time. It is as if, contrary to all physical laws, moments in time and space had found themselves again, and now a moment carries a half a century into our time as a result of the mere touch of light, just as the moment, the instant, donates its own present to the past again...

This work of art turns the bitterness of exile into the sensuality of the search. In these superimpositions, where images, periods of time, and material combine, a work of mourning is carried out that at the same time has an aesthetic and epistemological element.

Read excerpts, reviews and view photos of the monograph

By Kamal Boullata
Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014

In his incessant attempts to mend together pieces of a world that no longer exists, Sabella’s process of recollection subsequently emerged in the fragility of fragments of wall paint where the photographed past shatters like a mirror in one’s home. Here, a poetics of time unravels in the fleeting moment, photographed such that the fragment resembles a chip of pottery from an archeological site.

Read excerpts, reviews and view photos of the monograph


Review: Fragments
By Sheyma Buali
Harper's Bazaar Art Arabia
July/August 2014

In 38 Days, Sabella does not simply construct images but creates relics from his own imagination based on a very personal perception of place. These abstract souvenirs evoke notions of home and alienation and the friction between perceived and physical distance.



Preserving the Image
By Robin Mann
July/August 2014


It is striking how much the work is reminiscent of a continent itself. Jagged edges of peeled paint define the end of the snapshot, cut off listlessly and creating its own border. Interweaving layers of varying faded oil tones and plaster applied to the Jerusalem city walls from which it is peeled, creating a lattice of colour, gradations of brown through green. We are nonetheless looking at a black-and-white image.



Image as witness - Archeology of the past: Interview with Steve Sabella
By Wafa Gabsi
Contemporary Practices - Volume XIV

Contemporary Practices

We often associate success in archeological research with the discovery of an ancient fragment that would add to our understanding of the past. For example, we often relate to paintings on cave walls in terms of how they decode the life structure of the past. But what was their essence––what was their position in the visual puzzle in tracing and solving the history of the image? By asking these questions we could research the visual history of the world––a history that traces back to the origin of the image and the question of who existed first: the image or the world? Ironically, it was through exile that I was able to dig deeper into the relationship between images. The only way out was by altering my consciousness, or simply resorting to imagination to build new structures. There is no truth out there, but many variations, interpretations and constructions of it. I was able to live in a new reality that I had revealed to myself.