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Steve Sabella’s oeuvre unfolds like a book. Its chapters chronicle the artist’s journey towards visual and intellectual maturation and bravely investigate his shifting psychological states, narrating a deeply personal individuation process. Thus, in order to fully appreciate the triumph of Sabella’s recent work, it is vital to take into account the evolution of his practice, from his first photographic series Search (1997) and Identity(2002) to the work presented in his current solo exhibition Euphoria & Beyond at the Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai (May 2 to June 11, 2011).
 
 
 
 
 
 
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in Exile (2008) was about the state of mind of living in permanent mental exile. It was about fragmentation, disorientation, confusion and dislocation. I tried to give a visual form to my life, as exile and alienation are at the core of my life. It seems that I have managed to slowly glue my fragments so that they appear complete, in a healthier way.
Before they were torn apart in every direction, where now they make some form of a unity. Hence I 'feel more stable.'

I think at this stage of my life, I managed to transcend this state of mind. Just like my journey to penetrate my psyche to give a visual form to my fragmented state of mind, it occurred to me that I should journey to the beautiful side of my brain and unlock the aesthetic and beauty buried there and give these a visual form.

I feel I am in transition - in a new state of mind - euphoria

 
 
 
 

EXHIBITED ARTWORKS

 

Cécile Elise Sabella (2008)

In Transition (2010)

Euphoria (2010)

Beyond Euphoria (2011)

 

     
     
     
     
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In Transition (2010)
 
     
     
 
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Euphoria (2010)
 
 
In contrast, the euphoria triptych is a joyous retinal explosion. Cut and assembled from hundreds of fragments of trees, like those shown in transition, the resulting photomontages of organic fluidity emanate cathartic relief and a transcendence of the state of ‘mental exile.’ Long years of self-interrogation have given way to a more stable personality, one open to expansion and to the appreciation of beauty and the sublime. -Christa Paula
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

"There are two voices that have penetrated and shook me during the creation of Beyond Euphoria. Both are Tunisian and have become iconic. The first one is the voice of the man who went in a dramatic scene shouting in the street the moment he heard that Ben Ali 'fled away' (Ben Ali Hrab). The other is the voice of an older man with white hair (Harimna, Harimna), who was speaking with a voice that, like the first one, condensed one hundred years of Arab history. Both of their voices recapitulated the agony, the pain, the anticipation, the frustration, the joy,the sadness, the revelation and the euphoria of how every Arab felt.

In Paris, I had the utmost honor of having dinner in the most astonishing and unforeseen manner with the first voice.

My state of transition and Euphoria preceded the Arab revolts. My journey of interrogation and introspection has been leading me to self-liberation. To achieve it, I had to confront myself, journey to my core and question my 'beliefs' and everything in my 'reality'. The journey starts from within and once it starts, change is inevitable. It is possible, that this is what people in many different countries realized. Beyond Euphoria was created at a time when I was absorbing the dramatic changes in the Arab World. The unfolding events influenced this artwork and shifted it from its original conception."

ben ali harabharimna
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beyond Euphoria (2011)
 
 

It is also relevant that the production period of Sabella’s first post-Euphoria works coincided with the demonstration in Tunisia and Egypt.beyond euphroia relishes in a freedom never seen before in Sabella’s oeuvre, a freedom where possibilities are limitless and new fictional spaces beckon to be explored. -Christa Paula

 
 
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Cécile Elise Sabella (2008)
 
 

When my daughter Cécile was born seven years ago, it was only a question of time until we had difficulties communicating. She spoke Swiss German; I spoke Arabic, and neither of us understood what the other was talking about. She was simply foreign to me. Alienation entered my private family life.

For three years we communicated through the mother who did the translation, and when we moved to live in London something happened. Cécile felt homesick. Standing at the window of the living room (the first artwork in exile 2008), she expressed: “I want to go back home, to my country Jerusalem.” She felt physically in exile and I anyway felt mentally in exile. For the first time, Cécile and I started to communicate using our own language—the language of exile.

To mirror this new communication and revelation, I photographed her clothes from both sides because a piece of cloth will always have its other side— that is Cécile and I will always be connected. The left side of the prints or the art book connotes my daughter (the child’s world) and the right side connotes me (confused or lost in my space). It is like two simultaneous levels of exile consciousness.

This work is like discovering the ‘Other’ that lives in us. It also approaches the concept of exile from a different perspective. This inside and outside concept connotes the condition people who are forced to live in exile go through as they are moved from within the space to another outer space. Furthermore, even though the artwork may have at its origin notions of political exile, it also explores personal exile - a state that many people in today’s mobile world live in.

I wanted to convey a relationship, duality, confusion and alienation, but for sure a dialogue and my euphoria of discovering my daughter. I tried to humanize a piece of cloth and give it identity.

 
 
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