Beyond Finitude: Steve Sabella’s 38 Days of Re-Collection


Fragments From Our Beautiful Future

By T.J. Demos

May 18, 2017



With 38 Days of Re-Collection, we glimpse scenes of aesthetic plenitude, just beyond reach. Beyond reach because the images are flattened, obscured, fragmented, blurred and discolored. Their supports are irregular, each being singular, being ripped from walls, ripped from time, opening layers of the past. They are portals to the past, peeled-away strata, archaeological traces.




order book on Kerber Verlag website

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.




order book on Kerber Verlag website

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.




order book on Kerber Verlag website

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.




order book on Kerber Verlag website

Fragments from our Beautiful Future


Fragments From Our Beautiful Future

By Jill Bumiller
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.




order book on Kerber Verlag website

Fragments from our Beautiful Future


Fragments From Our Beautiful Future

By Shulamit Bruckstein
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.




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The Parachute Paradox: An Artist’s Law of Return
Transcript of ICI Berlin Book Launch Introduction


ICI Berlin

By Almút Sh. Bruckstein

October 18, 2016



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.




watch event on YouTube

Re-constructing Dasein: The Works of Steve Sabella


Institute for Middle East Understanding

By Charlotte Bank
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?



view on IMEU


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.”



View PDF
Read on the CNN website


FRANCE 24 – Encore!


FRANCE 24 – Encore!

By Eve Jackson

Feature of 1st Biennial of Arab Photography

November 12, 2015



View on FRANCE 24 
The feature begins at minute 7:30 – see Sabella’s interview at 10:20



The Arab World Photographed by a Pioneering Biennale 


RFI (French)

By Siegried Forster

Feature of 1st Biennial of Arab Photography, with interview of Steve Sabella
November 11, 2015



PDF (French)
Read the article on the RFI website / listen to the interview
Sabella’s interview begins at 2:05 on the player

institute for palestine studies






Steve Sabella, “My Art Is Not About Palestine! It’s About My Life.”


Palestine Square – The Blog of the Institute for Palestine Studies

By Khelil Bouarrouj
March 6, 2015



“My art is not about Palestine! It’s about my life.” Steve Sabella quickly corrected me as I started our interview with a line about his art and its connection to the land of his birth. Sabella rejected the effort to label him. “Many people seek to put labels and categories on my work,” he told me. And while aware of the expectations surrounding a “Palestinian artist,” he has long held that what other people think of him is of no consequence to his own truth. Sabella is not trying to distance himself from Palestine. Far from it, he assures me, but he contends, “I think it is better to be from someplace” than to be defined by it. Steve from Jerusalem, Palestine, rather than Steve the Palestinian. Instead of national labels doing the introduction, Sabella argues, understanding people as simply from somewhere—recognizing the individual instead of projecting their representation of a collective upon them—allows for clearer communication between us all.


Visit Palestine Square website

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 and Archaeology of the Future – A Show in Verona



By Terry Peterle

November 7, 2014


PDF (Italian)

Read on Artribune

Palestinian Photographer Steve Sabella Declares Independence through Mental Images – Book Review


Art Radar

By Lisa Pollman

September 12, 2014


Born in Jerusalem, Steve Sabella is a photographer whose portfolio depicts the challenges and struggles of the human condition in familiar yet abstract forms. As a Palestinian visual artist who has lived both under occupation and in exile, Sabella’s work brings into focus a sharp and sometimes uncomfortable view of contemporary life in the 21st century in a way that begs reflection by the viewer.


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.



view on Art Radar

Verona – Steve Sabella


By Camilla Bertoni
September 2014


PDF (Italian)
view on Exhibart website


Palestinian Tragedy through the Eyes of the Artist



Interview by Evrim Altug

July 27 & 28, 2014



In my work I engage in an archeology of the future, which is not necessarily based on finding physical objects, but is rather based on understanding images and their formation. This has been the human quest since the beginning of time. And yet what characterizes the world today is a lack of consciousness. We lost the ability to connect ourselves to our surroundings because we consume the world mostly from a safe distance, through its image. This has led us to incessantly question what is real and what is not. One thing is for sure, human suffering is real, unlike the illusions I create. My illusions are only meant to act as imagined bridges, map-like structures that connect us to our past with an eye to the future.


PDF (Turkish)

PDF (English) 



Steve Sabella – Photography 1997-2014

By Hubertus Von Amelunxen




In 2009 Sabella rented a house in Ein Karim in Jerusalem, which a Palestinian family had abandoned, to secure themselves, when they heard about the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948. He stayed in it for thirty-eight days, taking photographs of objects—utensils, walls, pictures—visually frisking the history of the place. Then, in his parental home and in other houses in the Old City of Jerusalem, he removed pieces of walls, little bits of painted plaster, or just of stained chalk. The color photographs were copied onto black-andwhite film, and the pieces of fresco, flayed bits of wall, were covered in an emulsion, and the negatives from the house he lived in projected and fixed on that emulsion. Because of the different colors of the carrier, the black-and-white images take on a mysterious, dreamlike presence that really belongs to no place and no time. They look ghostly; are theabsence of presence and the presence of absence, and it is hard to decide which place or time they belong to.




view monograph
order on
Hatje Cantz website



Steve Sabella – Photography 1997-2014

By Kamal Boullata



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.




view monograph
order on Hatje Cantz website

Steve Sabella: An Encounter


Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue

The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona

By Karin Adrian von Roques



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.”


download catalogue
watch exhibition teaser

Discoveries of a Mental Journey


Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue

The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona

By Beatrice Benedetti




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.



view entire catalogue
watch exhibition teaser

Beyond Palestine


Layers Exhibition Catalogue

Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait

By Malu Halasa


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.



visit CAP website







Layers Exhibition Catalogue

Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

By Abed Al Kadiri


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. 



visit CAP website

harpers bazaar










Review: Fragments


Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia

By Sheyma Buali
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


Canvas Magazine

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.




Steve Sabella: Insights into the Nature of Identity and Visual Reality


Cedar Wings Magazine


For 38 Days of Re-Collection (2014) Sabella lived in a Palestinian home occupied by Israelis since 1948. Unsettled, he tried to make sense of the space by photographing it thoroughly, then collected fragments of paint that were peeling off the walls of the home he was born in and other houses in the old city of Jerusalem. He painted light sensitive black-and-white photo emulsion on the fragments, and then printed the photographs he had taken on them. Also in 2014, Steve Sabella presented his latest work at his exhibition “Fragments” at London’s Berloni Gallery from March 7 to May 10.



Image as witness – Archeology of the past: Interview with Steve Sabella


Contemporary Practices – Volume XIV

By Wafa Gabsi



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.




Steve Sabella Occupation and Exile… and Transformations


Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

By Antawan Joukai
March 15, 2014


PDF (Arabic)

view on the Al Arabi El Jadid website

In Exile / Jerusalem – An Interview with Steve Sabella


Israel & Palästina – Palästinensische Kunst

Deutsch-Israelischen Arbeitskreis für Frieden im Nahen Osten e.V.

By Rainer Zimmer-Winkel



PDF (German)

visit the diAk website

featured publications

Fragments from our Beautiful Future
Published by Kerber Verlag, 2017


The book accompanies Steve Sabella’s duo exhibition Fragments from our Beautiful Future at The Bumiller Collection, Berlin. The exhibition was conceived by A.S Bruckstein of House of Taswir


The book includes critical essays by T.J.Demos, Ella Shohat, Hubertus von Amelunxen, Almút Sh. Bruckstein, Lorenz Korn, Nat Muller, Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh, Marleen Stoessel, Elliot R. Wolfson


read essay abstracts

purchase the book

Steve Sabella – Photography 1997-2014

Published by Hatje Cantz in collaboration with the Akademie der Künste Berlin, 2014


Essays by Hubertus von Amelunxen
Foreword by Kamal Boullata


view the monograph


Archaeology of the Future
Published by Maretti Editore, 2014


‘Steve Sabella: An Encounter’ by Karin Adrian von Roque
‘Discoveries of a Mental Journey’ by Beatrice Benedetti
”In the Darkroom with Steve Sabella by Leda Mansour
‘Archaeology of the Future’ by Steve Sabella


As part of the Archaeology of the Future solo exhibition
At the International Center for Photography Scavi Scaligeri in Verona, ItalyIn collaboration with Boxart Gallery (Verona) and Berloni Gallery (London)

October 8 – November 16 2014


Purchase the book

On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings of Ella Shohat

Published by Pluto Press, 2017


Featuring Steve Sabella in the introduction 

Featuring 38 Days of Re-Collection on the cover

Winner of the 2017 memoir award at the Palestine Book Awards



read excerpt from the essay

view the book online 



As part of the Fragments solo exhibition
At Berloni Gallery, London, UK

March 7 – May 10, 2014


visit the Berloni Gallery website

Nel Mezzo Del Mezzo 


As part of the New Mezzo del Mezzo group exhibition at the Museo Riso, Palermo, Italy October 10 – November 30, 2015

Curated by Marco Bazzini, Bartomeu Mari & Christine Macel


view Steve Sabella page of catalogue (Italian)
view entire catalogue (Italian)



‘Beyond Palestine’ by Malu Halasa
‘Foreword’ by Abed Al Kadiri


As part of the Layers solo exhibition
At Contemporary Art Platform, Kuwait

September 21 – October 21, 2014


view entire catalogue
visit the Contemporary Art Platform website