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Lambda print on diasec
3.5-cm aluminum box edge
155 x 125 cm



Steve Sabella - Euphoria at Fotofest

DEUTSCHE WELLE - GUEST & STORY - Steve Sabella: Occupation is Like Rape - It Cannot be Justified
By Samah Altaweel
Interview of Steve Sabella (Arabic)
Deutsche Welle
Deutsche Welle - The Guest and the Story

Re-constructing Dasein: The Works of Steve Sabella
By Charlotte Bank
Institute for Middle East Understanding
March 28, 2016
Following Steve Sabella’s path through his projects In Exile (2008), In Transition (2010), Euphoria (2010), Beyond Euphoria (2011), Metamorphosis (2012) and finally Independence (2013), the onlooker has access to a unique view of the psychological struggles the artist faced in his condition of up-rootedness. In each series except Independence, Sabella used a particular collage technique, piecing together fragmented photographic images taken from multiple perspectives. Sabella has likened this meticulous process, the careful re-arranging and twisting of forms, to painting rather than any classical use of photography. In many of these collages it is difficult to discern any clear directions; there seems to be no clear up or down. When drawn into these images, one finds oneself caught in a dizzying, free-floating condition, disturbing at first, but maybe also offering the promise of endless freedom, to be found somewhere, sometime.

In this cycle of works Euphoria might be understood as representing a climax. After foregrounding the destructive aspect of uprootedness in In Exile, Euphoria presents a reflection on the liberating feeling that comes with shedding one’s mental chains. Through the metaphor of uprooted trees, arranged in whirls, Sabella offers a powerful visualization of this short-lived emotional condition. The individual parts of the collage seem to fit effortlessly together, bearing certain resemblances to the work of M.C. Escher, as well as the ornamental principles of classical Islamic art.

The Harrowed Hands of Palestine
By Sarah Irving
Electronic Intifada
November 2, 2015
Electronic Intifada
Later sequences of work such as “In Exile” (2008), “In Transition” (2010), “Euphoria” (2010), and “Sinopia” (2014) document Sabella’s increasing fascination with abstracting his photographs, layering and repeating images to create atmospheric but less immediately readable pieces. Some involve direct and challenging imagery — razor wire and brutal metal shapes — while others have a much more tender, personal feel. The abstractness, though, creates even here a sense of distance, as if a question is being posed. The viewer is also challenged by the complex relationship of aesthetic with content. In abstracting his images, Sabella makes barbed wire and the harsh metal technologies of exclusion and social violence somehow beautiful. Where do aesthetics and ethics meet in such a picture?

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

In Conversation with Steve Sabella
By Madeline Yale Preston
Independence Exhibition Catalogue, Meem Gallery in Dubai
Madeline Yale Preston: Several of your series’ titles – In Exile, Metamorphosis, Euphoria, Beyond Euphoria, to name a few – suggest states of being that are interconnected in sum. One interpretation is that these ‘states’ are autobiographical, referring to your own evolutionary psychological framework, largely in response to living in occupied Jerusalem for the majority of your life. The title Independence – also a state of being – is a leading one. What is it independence from?

Steve Sabella: In my catalogue essay for the
Archaeology of the Future exhibition in Verona (October 2014), I ask whether we can break ourselves free from our image. In my work I explore decoding fixed systems that are constantly at work to entrap people in bordered spaces. Over time this investigation led me to see the bigger picture. Each series I have created began with a search of how to explore and exit the state of mind I was living in. I transformed this state into a visual dilemma or a question, which, once solved, would lead me to a new state with a new visual challenge. Looking back at my work, I see that I was unfolding visual palimpsests that explore the multiple layers of my past, and the influence perception had on my ‘reality’. Today my images gain their independence from my narrative. The narrative might still be there, but it will unfold itself in a different way. There are hidden layers in images that change perception all the time. It is time to engage further in the process of looking, where meaning resides only in the mind of the viewer.

Free-Falling Into the Future
By Madeline Yale Preston
Independence Exhibition Catalogue, Meem Gallery in Dubai
Euphoria (2010) may propose an autobiographical remapping of the artist’s relationship to his homeland. Its repetitive, fragmented structures can symbolize a detachment from associative images of border and exile.

By Meagan Kelly Horsman
Independence Exhibition Catalogue - Meem Gallery, Dubai
Independence Cataloague
I first encountered Steve Sabella’s art when consigning works for the Bonhams Photographs auction in 2011, the first Photographs auction to take place in the Middle East. I remember seeing his Euphoria (2010) at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai and marveling at the beauty of the work, the high gloss finish from the Diasec mount and the overall feeling of quality that the piece gave. I still recall the buzz in the room when the work came up for sale during the auction, an energy I still note when discussing Sabella’s work.

View the entire Independence catalogue

Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014
By Hubertus Von Amelunxen
The three images that make up Sabella’s cycle Euphoria (2010) heighten the intertwining lines and encirclements in the photographic fragments that have been thrown and pushed into ornamental orders. The gaze is ordered by sky views mediated through treetops or branches. These are ramifications that structure the gaze at the sky, the gaze into the distance; likewise they form a promise, a possible opening… What we recognize in the works of Euphoria is not the clear symmetry of a mathematically traceable pattern, but rather a rhythmic structure that can also have an underlying asymmetrical pattern.


Stages of Transition. Visualizing Exile in the Work of Steve Sabella
By Dorothea Schoene
Afterimage - Volume 39, Number 6


His next series, “Euphoria,” followed immediately; indeed, Sabella began the series just a week after finishing “In Transition.” Ultimately, the aesthetic aspect of each piece became increasingly important.While the title still reveals a personal impulse and a reflection of emotional state, the examination of beauty and aesthetics has become a more prevalent part of the work... As one of the most prominent contemporary photographers from the Middle East, Sabella has revealed in his work not only his autobiography, but also a symptomatic portrayal of an entire generation of exiled and displaced artists from the region.

... Sabella, in his use of non-Middle Eastern iconography, most certainly fits into this description. However, his self-referential works still retain strong evidence of where he is coming from and what has inspired him.



Exodus and Back
By Myrna Ayad


It then seems as though Sabella’s In Transition hit the nail right on the head and snowballed into a mental ecstasy. in the same week that he shot images for In Transition, came Euphoria, “like an explosion!” here, the images take on a chromosomal quality; the apparent veins and arteries clearly connect to one another and Sabella’s dna is unmistakably lucid.



Steve Sabella in Conversation with Sara Rossino
By Sara Rossino

The Changing Room Exhibition Catalogue, Curated by Aida Eltorie

This is when I broke my bones and changed my skin. Blood was flowing again in my veins; a spark hit me, ignition and a rebirth. This is when the euphoric explosion occurred and which was followed by the sprinkle of stars - I am free. Hence, with Euphoria, the form had to change and shift. Instead of solid windows, I looked for something more organic – trees; a form that gives a feeling of movement, change, and revival. I was uprooting myself.



Steve Sabella - I am From Jerusalem
By Christa Paula
Exhibition review for Euphoria and Beyond at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai

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.’



Steve Sabella
By Christa Paula
Bonhams Auction Catalogue
April 13, 2011

Euphoria (2010) heralds a lifting of the state of 'mental exile', the realisation that identity is liquid and situational and that choice of context is an option. It is perhaps not surprising that it was created in physical exile. Montaged from hundreds of shots of trees, the resulting image of organic fluidity signifies cathartic relief, emanating a sense of the ecstatic and the sublime. Anthropomorphised shapes dance against the softly pattered background forming ever new aesthetic possibilities in the promise of limitless expansion.




Euphoria and Beyond
By Charlotte Bank

May 13, 2011


Light shines through the branches of trees, caught in floating movements, ephemeral and fragile like the first rays of morning light after a long and dark night. Here, a cautious hope enters Sabella’s universe, a hope that gains in momentum in “Euphoria”, a triptych celebrating the euphoric deliverance from the mental bonds of anxiety in what might be called a “mental heterotopia”. Through the use of a similar technique of multi-angled photomontages as in “In Exile”, each of the three single pieces show a kaleidoscope of up-rooted trees. But their up-rootedness does not make them appear doomed, rather they seem to stretch out their branches, circling around each other in a light-hearted dance.

Read article on Zakharif


Steve Sabella: In Exile
By Charlotte Bank
Nafas Art Magazine - Universe in Universe
July 2010


"...These contorted passageways through his own psyche led the artist to the roots of his wounds and gave him an inkling of the possibility of healing. While the destructiveness of being uprooted was at the center of In Exile, Sabella’s newest works move, release and liberation into the foreground. Euphoria (2010) alludes to the blissful feeling of being freed of mental fetters. This feeling – possibly short-lived, as the artist himself concedes – is expressed in playful-seeming, uprooted trees..."

Read article on Nafas