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81 x 45 cm
Lambda print on diasec,
3.5-cm aluminum box edge

Animated projections onto six double-sided screens
hung in a dark room

Watch a video of the installation in the Layers solo exhibition at CAP Kuwait (2014)

Independence - Steve Sabella
Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella 
Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella
independence Independence - Steve Sabella
Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella
Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella
Independence - Steve Sabella Independence - Steve Sabella

Installation Shots
Archaeology of the Future Archaeology of the Future Archaeology of the Future Archaeology of the Future
Layers Layers
Installation visualization by P7 Digitale Kommunikation
independence  independence  independence


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.

...Like cracks in a broken mirror, the montage of the image [in Euphoria] becomes clear, pointing towards a mental process that has not yet been accomplished and that leads to the subsequent series, ending with the project Independence, realized in 2013, in which we see complete, floating human bodies, possibly a sign that the artist has healed his mental wounds and sees himself as complete. It is a breaking free of all bonds that now allows the artist to embark on new quests.

Steve Sabella: Independence
By Seth Thompson
Afterimage - Volume 42, Number 5
January/February 2015
Independence, which conjures up notions of emancipation and liberation, is fitting in regard to both the images’ content and technical departure. In a 2014 interview with Evrim Altug, Sabella stated, “In many ways, a state of surrender has invaded the consciousness of Palestinians in the never ending Israeli occupation, with the exception of the people in the Gaza Strip. It is the role of the individual to stand up and free him or herself from the new form of colonization that most people are unaware of, the colonization of the imagination.” Perhaps this series is evidence that Sabella has granted himself the freedom that he suggests.

Book of the Month: Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014
This Week in Palestine
April 2015
This Week In Palestine
Sabella’s body of work is presented chronologically, and the texts and contextual images are interspersed within the series. Here viewers have the full visual journey at their fingertips and can enjoy the evolution of form and content over time. Politically hard-hitting works such as Settlement – Six Israelis & One Palestinian and In Exile mix with the sensitivity present in Cécile Elise Sabella and the charged aesthetic experience of Independence. The artist has discovered a means of conveying a multitude of nuanced visual experiences through work that is diverse and never ceases to captivate.

New Constellations for Steve Sabella
January 2015
...With Meem Gallery in Dubai finishing off with Independence (28 October–6 December). New work by Sabella also marked a significant shift from his more abstracted style of recent years to the use of figures again. “Since I freed my art from my personal narrative, I went back to focusing on my research in decoding the visual world we live in,” explained Sabella. “This visual research is leading me to explore what came first, the world or its image. To do this, I unveil hidden visual palimpsests that were not apparent to my eye before. Perhaps I needed to come to terms with my exile and eventually scrape away the political layers that guided the viewers towards an almost predetermined meaning from my work.”

A Drift
By Rebecca Anne Proctor
Harper's Bazaar Arabia
January/February 2015
Harpers Bazaar
As the artist himself shares. 'Once we are locked inside the images of ourselves, these images take on a life of their own... [They] often outlast us and can replace us as the 'remembered reality.' lt has taken time for Sabella to free himself from the mental torments of exile and displacement. Those familiar with his work will remember his series 'In Exile' (2008) when this was first apparent. Here we witnessed the initial visualisation of his movement into freedom through images whereby the artist destroyed and assembled symbols of entry and exile.... These pieces challenge the photographic image of Palestine as do his new works in 'Independence'.

Steve Sabella - Meem Gallery
By Kevin Jones
Artforum - Critic's Picks
November 2014
If Steve Sabella’s 2013 series “Independence” were music, it would be trip-hop—a suave, steady beat wrapped in a sullen, ethereal pall, at once spirited and weighty... The ambivalent, distended bodies depicted are themselves textured by scales of light and shown as if in free fall or blurred by nebulous fluid.

By Stephen Dillon
Artsy Editorial
November 21, 2014
There is beauty in the distortions of their bodies in the refracted water, but they are also made to appear fractured and incomplete by the warping ripples. Many of the images are oriented vertically, so that bodies appear to be falling or flying. In one, a woman reaches upward, while another ambiguous person—they are so obscured that we cannot be sure of their age or gender—reaches down to them through the inky blackness. They seem peaceful, but nonetheless straining for connection.

By Jyoti Kalsi
Gulf News
May 7, 2014
Gulf News
Berlin-based Palestinian artist Steve Sabella is known for his large-scale, abstract and sharp photographs. But his latest show in Dubai, “Independence”, is different. The photographs in this series are much smaller and have a diffused, dreamlike quality. They feature two anonymous figures suspended in a dark space. The figures seem peaceful yet unsettled; connected yet independent. They look almost like X-ray images, and a closer look reveals distortions and broken bones in the bodies.

Free-Falling Into the Future
By Madeline Yale Preston
Independence Exhibition Catalogue - Meem Gallery, Dubai
Independence Cataloague

Unlike the aforementioned fractured constellations, Independence is viscerally and deceptively whole. It is a new visual experience, wherein the only borders lie on the images’ edges themselves, and the outlines of the figures contained within them appear intact...
As theorist Roland Barthes implied, every photograph is of a dead moment.Whether we philosophically perceive a photograph to be of an experience that is ‘real’ or ‘imagined’, it is a tangible reproduction, which is by nature a cunning distortion. A photograph is a ghost of the image that once was, which is a ghost of the real. Even in the absence of the information before it, the camera still registers light on the surface substrate, effectively ‘inventing’ information, subjectively characterizing matter. If a photograph has the ability to define how reality is represented in the form of an image,
Independence can be read as a critique of the slippages between life and what is constructed in the mind.


In Conversation with Steve Sabella
By Madeline Yale Preston
Independence Exhibition Catalogue - Meem Gallery, Dubai
Independence Cataloague

I can relate to why some would argue that the history of photography and by extension that photography is dead, but I believe this way of thinking may be too chronological and linear. Photography is not dead; in fact I believe photography is still in its infancy. As long as we keep connecting photography to life, the medium will continue to be static. We should explore photography from within and see how images generated by photography add to our understanding of the world we live in. Perhaps the quote by Georges Didi-Huberman is the new world order: ‘We need pictures to create history, especially in the age of photography and cinema, but we also need imagination to re-see these images, and thus, to re-think history.’


By Meagan Kelly Horsman
Independence Exhibition Catalogue - Meem Gallery, Dubai
Independence Cataloague
Figures are immersed in a dark void, seemingly suspended in space, or floating on water. The slightly diffused image adds to the sense of timelessness—making the works appear almost dreamlike. The title invites the viewer to question the works: Independence as a state of being; are these figures independent, or do they lean on one another? Can one be both independent and dependent?

Discoveries of a Mental Journey
By Beatrice Benedetti
Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue - The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in collaboration with Boxart Gallery, Verona
Archaeology of the Future Catalogue
As the title suggests, the Independence series expresses liberation from a previous state of exile. The recovery of this freedom is represented by a large installation consisting of 6 screens measuring over two metres, suspended in space. A number of grainy, watery images, which can nevertheless be seen to be human figures, float dramatically on these large contemporary canvases in the room. The silhouettes hanging from the ceiling, like acrobats on a trapeze, convey a sense of peace and of harmony reconquered, which - one might add - would be so desirable for all of Palestine, for decades fighting for the same ideal.
View the catalogue on the Maretti website / purchase

Beyond Palestine
By Malu Halasa
Layers Exhibition Catalogue - Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait
Independence positions Sabella inside the major visual movement of our times. The current obsession with incessant image-making has transformed the way the visual image is created, distributed and seen/experienced. A case in point is the rise of low-resolution or pixilated images, particularly in light of the explosion of social media, citizen journalism and moving and still imagery from Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Bahrain and Tunisia over the last three years. While the distance between low-res images and the art gallery is not well traversed, Sabella is not only undeterred, but defiant.
“I didn’t need a Hasselblad. I didn’t need a camera. I was in the moment and the only thing that was going to make the image was my smart phone. Nothing is going to stop me from creating that image. For me, it was independence from the medium.”
View entire Layers catalogue
View exhibition installation photos
Read about the exhibition on the CAP website

By Abed Al Kadiri
Layers Exhibition Catalogue - Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait (2014)
Floating in darkness, they appear both liberated yet unsettled. They seem transported into the beyond, but their silver skin is abstracted and fragmented. While the title suggests transcendence and elation, the images present the viewer with more polarizing signs that suggest apprehension and disorientation, perhaps a comment on the struggle towards liberation.

View entire Layers catalogue
View exhibition installation photos
Read about the exhibition on the CAP website

Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014
By Hubertus Von Amelunxen

In Sabella’s more recent work Independence (2013), there is a pictorial state of uncertainty that abandons the coordinates of space and therefore of history.