home

Artworks
Biography
Monograph / About

Reviews
TV / Film Documentaries
Published Essays

Catalogues
Press Releases
Newsletters

Calendar
Contact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
MAGAZINE & CATALOGUE REVIEWS
   
         
         
         
   
Stitched Wounds
   
   
By Corinne Martin
   
   
Selections, Issue 39
   
   
November 2016
   
   
   
   
Selections
   
         
   

Palestinian artist Steve Sabella discusses his new book, The Parachute Paradox, in which he explores the concept of liberating the imagination

I want everyone who reads it to feel that our imaginations are free. I want them to consider what I’m convinced of today, that imagination and reality are two sides of the same coin, and that we create our own realities.'

   
   
   
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
Talking Art
   
   
Harper's Bazaar Art Arabia
   
   
By Nada Bokhowa
   
   
Winter 2016
   
         
   
Harper's Bazaar Art Arabia
   
   
   
   

This profound memoir chronicles the life of the artist Steve Sabella who was born in Jerusalem’s Old City and raised under Israeli occupation.

   
   
   
       
       
         
   
   
         
         
         
   
"We have the Power to Change Every Structure we’ve Created on this Planet"
Interview with Steve Sabella
   
   
Spitz Magazine (Hebrew) and ID Festival Online Magazine (English/German), Oct 2016
   
   
By Tal Alon
   
         
    ID Festival 2016    
   
   
   

Sabella is arguably the perfect protagonist: his art and writing are at once very personal as well as political and universal; his monologues are passionate, while leaving room for question marks.

   
   
   
       
       
       
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
Perturbed Visions
   
   
By Nat Muller
   
   
Walls and Margins exhibition catalogue
   
   
November 2015
   
         
    Walls and Margins    
         
   
Metamorphosis (2012)... shows segments of the Separation Wall multiplied in a dizzying motif. There is no top or bottom here, no sky or ground, the wall is reduced to pure pattern that confuses our way of looking... the pattern appears hermetic, it is frayed at the edges and hints at a transitional process. History has taught us that if walls can be put up, they can also be knocked down.
   
         
       
   
   
         
         
         
    Review: Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014    
    Journal of Palestine Studies    
   
Summer 2015
   
         
   
Journal of Palestine Studies
   
         
    Von Amelunxen provides a sophisticated perspective, and yet his is a gaze of an outsider from a different culture. By comparing Western and Middle Eastern scholarship and theoretical frameworks for artistic practice, he nevertheless builds a profound framework for possible perceptions, analysis, and understandings of Sabella’s work: After the Last Sky (part 1), Disentanglement (part 2), Cut (part 3), Palimpsest (part 4), Translation (part 5), and Counterpoint (part 6) provide six different angles from which the work can and/or could be seen and analyzed. In each discourse, writings by Martin Heidegger are as much taken into consideration as those of Mahmud Darwish, René Descartes as much as al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham, Edward Said as much as Achille Bonito Oliva or Vilèm Flusser.    
         
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
Book of the Month: Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014
   
   
This Week in Palestine
   
   
April 2015
   
         
   
This Week In Palestine
   
         
   
These three channels – Sabella’s artworks, Boullata’s introduction, and Amelunxen’s analysis – function as separate entities in open dialogue. The delicate and intriguing overlaps between them create layers of meaning that mirror the artworks they address.
   
         
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
Shifting Sands: Photography and Beyond
   
   
By Trent Morse
   
   
Art+Auction
   
   
March 2015
   
         
   
Art+Auction
   
         
   
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.
   
         
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
Steve Sabella: Creative Interpretation or Visual Deconstruction?
   
   
By Madeline Yale Preston
   
   
Tribe, Issue 00
   
   
2015
   
         
   
Tribe
   
         
   
Sabella moves beyond the surface of Bahrain to dismantle and reassemble his insights, building associations between diverse variables to construct new realities. The four works appear almost painted and question one’s perception of Bahrain as a location as well as presuppositions about the medium of photography itself.
   
         
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
Steve Sabella: Independence
   
   
By Seth Thompson
   
   
Afterimage
   
         
   
Afterimage
   
         
 
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.
   
         
       
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
New Constellations for Steve Sabella
   
   
Canvas
   
         
    Canvas    
         
   
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). The collaborative approach of presenting exhibitions and coordinating the book launch in the UK, Kuwait, Italy and UAE allowed for audiences to make new readings of his works, as each interconnected exhibition presented new arrangements of work. This new way of viewing allows for new layers to come to the surface and new contexts and links to be made.
   
         
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
A Drift
   
   
By Rebecca Anne Proctor
   
   
Harper's Bazaar Arabia
   
         
    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.' It 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
   
         
   
Artforum
   
         
   
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.
   
         
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
In Conversation with Steve Sabella
   
   
By Madeline Yale Preston
   
   
Independence Exhibition Catalogue (Meem Gallery in Dubai)
   
         
    Independence Cataloague    
         
   

We are still at the very beginning of discovering the power of photographic images. When we disassociate what we see from what has been photographed, we engage in a more profound way of looking. If every person on Earth looked at the same image and offered their interpretation of it, the list would literally be endless. Photography is (another) medium that creates endless visual palimpsests.

   
         
       
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
Free-Falling Into the Future
   
   
By Madeline Yale Preston
   
   
Independence Exhibition Catalogue (Meem Gallery in 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.

   
         
       
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
Foreword
   
   
By Meagan Kelly Horsman
   
   
Independence Exhibition Catalogue (Meem Gallery in 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?

   
         
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
       
       
         
    Cedar Wings    
         
   
Sabella is one of those rare artists who question not only the world but also themselves. The making of his artistic images is linked to the evolution of his self-image. Throughout his work, he has been on a quest to deconstruct and defy labels, to rebuild his identity, taking the risk of feeling like a stranger to oneself, uprooting himself only to later grow roots all over the world. Is cultural fragmentation a state of permanent exile, or is it an opportunity to recreate one’s mental surroundings – and recreate reality itself? As Sabella writes, “I find myself exploring the genealogy of the image and asking what existed first: the image or the world?”
   
         
   

PDF

   
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
Palestinian Photographer Steve Sabella Declares Independence through Mental Images – Book Review
   
   
By Lisa Pollman
   
   
Art Radar
   
         
   
Art Radar
   
         
   

Throughout the book, Sabella’s images take us from one world to another. His fresh, early work leads to the pivotal series “Six Israelis and One Palestinian” and “Metamorphosis”, ending with the painterly, rich series “38 days of re-collection” and “Sinopia”.

Sabella’s monograph stands as one of the very few records for those interested in learning more about contemporary art and artists from the Middle East to peruse and study.

   
   
   
   
   
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
Steve Sabella: An Encounter
   
   
By Karin Adrian von Roques
   
   

Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue (The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona)

   
   
   
   
Archaeology of the Future Catalogue
   
   
   
   
It is exactly at this point that a kind of healing proves to be a descent into the darkness to expose layer by layer the buried memories that are extracted there. This process enables a clearer “insight”. The windows that he photographed, cut apart, and set together again are an expression of his life that seems ungrounded. They grant us no view onto life. They are elements of absent walls.
   
   
   
   
   
       
       
   

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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
   
   
   
   
While mental exile gives the illusion of restrictions where there are none – in other words, in post-Wall Berlin - Steve gradually exorcises his own obstacles to freedom. Through his continuous, regimented encroachments, as we have seen, he is an artist who aims for the Universal, well aware that the indeterminateness of the human condition eludes all geometries, including his own. In his works, Sabella thus maintains the ambiguity that makes art necessarily infinite.
   
   
   
       
       
   

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
In the Darkroom with Steve Sabella
   
   
By Leda Mansour
   
   
Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue (The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona)
   
   
   
   
Archaeology of the Future Catalogue
   
   
   
   
To cross in the walls of the city became different. A visual technique and an investigation which return the colour in its real place. The black and white brings up the colour, and between the two are what the artist seeks lovingly to return to the sources of photography, as if one were at the beginning of photographic creation, his history becomes also that of the house, its inhabitants and their exile. What is an exiled photograph?
   
         
       
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
 
Beyond Palestine
   
 
by Malu Halasa
   
 
Layers Exhibition Catalogue
   
         
    Layers Catalogue    
 
   
 
Sabella is determined to ‘unfix’ the image and free us from thinking that we are familiar with another country just because we see pictures of it. He is equally intent on showing that ‘the real’ is an elastic concept, both in the image and in the world. It encompasses experiences, that while sometimes not entirely our own, are ones we recognize, react to and feel intimately.
   
 
   
       
 
   
 

   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
Foreword
   
 
by Abed Al Kadiri
   
 
Layers Exhibition Catalogue
   
         
    Layers Catalogue    
 
   
 
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.
   
         
   
   
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   

Review: Fragments

   
   
By Sheyma Buali
   
   
Harper's Bazaar Art Arabia
   
         
   
harpers bazaare
   
         
   
The sense of a palimpsest recurred throughout this show as alienation, exile, displacement, disembodiment and fragmentation intermingled across the works. There were allusions to Sabella’s earlier works in which exclusion, obstruction and nostalgia were rendered in photographic form. But we are left with a sense of how Sabella continues to use his work to take control of his own past and future.
   
         
       
   
   
         
         
         
         
   
Preserving the Image
   
   
By Robin Mann
   
       
   
   
   
Canvas
   
   
   
   
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
   
   
Wafa Gabsi
   
   
Contemporary Practices Journal, Volume XI, 2012
   
         
   
cp
   
       
   
   
         
         
         
   
The Last Word
   
   
Canvas Magazine (2013)
   
         
   
canvas
   
         
   
canvas logo
   
         
       
   
   
         
         
   
   
   
Steve Sabella's Ecdysis: The Catharsis of Metamorphosis
   
   
By Dorothea Schoene
   
   
Contemporary Practices Journal, Volume XI, 2012
   
         
   
Contemporary Practices
   
         
   

“The way I understand metamorphosis is that the rebirth will still remember or carry with it some burdens of the past, given that there is no DNA change. I do perceive my life in a more mature way now.”

PDF

   
   
   
   
   
         
   
   
   
Stages of Transition - Visualizing Exile in the Work of Steve Sabella
   
   
By Dorothea Schoene
   
   
AfterImage
   
         
   
Afterimage
   
   

 

   
   

Taking into consideration that his works are the final result of a long, almost painterly process of arranging, the question remains as to how much can be retraced and what the most important part of his art is. Is it the elaborately arranged layers of the actual art object, or their inherent reference to a previous act of capturing his own state of mind?

“You’ll understand my life through my work,” the artist claims. This statement is true in a double sense: first, because of his intimate portrayal of his emotional state of being; secondly, because Sabella, for the most part, documents his immediate surroundings. His oeuvre is thus a continuously growing diary and portfolio of his own life’s documentation.

PDF

   
   
   
         
   
   
   
   
    Exodus and Back    
   
By Myrna Ayad
   
   
Canvas (2011)
   
         
   

canvas

canvas logo

   
         
   

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. He realised that there must be other “galaxies”, that his mental ascension couldn’t stop there – “I wanted to reach a supreme state of aesthetics” – and incidentally, a Beyond Euphoria began to take shape, the Arab Spring exploded into life.

PDF

   
   

   
   
   
         
   
   
   
Steve Sabella in Conversation with Sara Rossino
   
   
By Sara Rossino
   
   
The Changing Room exhibition catalogue, curated by Aida Eltorie (2011)
   
   
   
   
conversation
   
   
   
   
The world is entrapped in its own image. Any change that any country, nation wishes to undergo has to start with the nature of that image. That is, people need to understand image formation and the mechanisms that manage to change global perception. At a time where conquering the world physically is no more considered a viable option, it seems that conquering the image of the world is becoming or has become the New World Order. In other words what we are witnessing is the conquering and or the ‘Colonization of the Imagination’. What I wish is for people to understand how to liberate themselves from that colonization.
   
         
   
   
   

   
         
   
   
   
   
   
Steve Sabella - I am from Jerusalem
   
   
By Christa Paula
   
   
Exhibition Review - 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.’ 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. It is also relevant that the production period of Sabella’s first post-Euphoria works coincided with the demonstration in Tunisia and Egypt. Beyond Euphoria 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.

Read full review

   
   
   
         
   
   
         
 
Bonhams Auction Catalogue (2011)
   
 
By Christa Paula
   
         
 
bonhams-auction-sabella-results.html
   
         
 

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.

   
         
       
       
       
   
   
         
         
   
   
   
Steve Sabella - The Journey of Artistic Interrogation and Introspection
   
   
By Yasmin El Rashidi
   
   
Contemporary Practices Journal, Volume VI, 2010
   
         
   
sabella - Yamin el Eashidi review
   
         
   

Palestinian-born artist Steve Sabella could well be a younger, more alternative, more artistic version of the late Edward Said. Like the literary exile who lived in an enclave of a world he had created for himself on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, surrounded and consumed and embedded in the construct of texts that deconstructed the reality he struggled with, Sabella is one who lives in an equal state of alienation – confined to an exile that transcends place: London, and rather is contained in the bounds of his mind. A mind that like Said’s did deconstructs only to rebuild again, but in this case, using a terminology of visual narratives.

PDF

   
   

   
         
   
   
   
   
   
Steve Sabella
   
   
By Martina Corgnati
   
   
Contemporary Practices Journal, Volume VI, 2010
   
         
   
Sabella - Martina Corgnati review
   
         
   

From 1997 on, the images, series and projects of Steve Sabella are periscopes drowned in the invisible of human condition, the uncanny and the search for a meaning; an “exile” that starts as physical and contingent and ends becoming mental, a category of the soul that needs an answer, or a series of answers from each one of us; answers that change – evolve during a lifetime. So, Sabella raised the horizon to his own eye level: From a contingent one to a universal one, escaping every rhetoric, though not losing his identity as an artist, but on the contrary, conquering it.

PDF

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

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...

 

 

 
         
       
       
   
   
         
   
   
   
   
   
Steve Sabella in Exile - Conversation with the Artist
   
   
By Sara Rossino (Italian & English)
   
   
Exhibition Catalogue - Metroquadro Gallery in Rivoli, Turin - May, 2010
   
         
   
sabella - sara rossino review
   
         
   

The first time you find yourself in front of the artworks which make up the In Exile series by Steve Sabella, you have a strange feeling of familiarity. Not with regards to the places which are featured in the images, fragments of a subjective reality which is alien to the viewer, details of the everyday London life which the artist has been living with his family for the past three years since he left the Old City of Jerusalem. These shards of captured memories, deconstructed and reconstructed, are intimate to Sabella because they belong to his daily dimension, but are distant from the spectator, lacking a familiar or recognizable reference, extracted from an anonymous anywhere.

PDF

   
   

   
         
         
         
   
Settlement
   
   
By Bina Sarkar
   
   
International Gallerie, Issue 25, 2010
   
         
   
sabella Bina Sarkar Review
   
         
   

Convincing six Israelis to strip for him and stand in their underwear, Sabella creates an artwork that is uncommon in the region as it shifts from ubiquitous views of ‘Nostalgia’. Instead, it engages the viewer in a strong visual debate and thought.

PDF

   
   
   
   
   
         
   
   
   
Territory in Exile - Exile of Identity
   
   
By Stephanie Ravel
   
   
L'Agenda Magazine (2010)
   
         
   

sabella - Stephanie Ravel Review

L'Agenda

   
         
   

A leading figure of the new wave of Palestinian artists, Steve Sabella is reworking the image of Palestinian art. Conceptual and psychological, his photomontage series In Exile challenges the traditional approach to the Palestinian question.

PDF

   
   

   
         
         
         
   
Contemporary Art Practices - Magazine Cover featuring In Exile
   
   
Volume VI (2009)
   
   

 

contemporary practices art journal

PDF

   
   

   
         
         
         
   
Reconstructing Deconstruction
   
   
Gerhard Charles Rump
   
   
Contemporary Art Practices Journal, Volume V, 2009
   
   
   
   
gerhard
   
   
   
   

Sabella serializes different single images to form a kind of overall structured image, a super-image. The function of the super-image is broader and bigger than that of the individual images it is composed of. His metaphor of the city (of Jerusalem) is that of windows or window-fronts or parts of house- facades. There is light coming from within, and the tilting and mirroring (in symmetries) adds dynamism to the super-image thus created

PDF