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.


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The Harrowed Hands of Palestine







By Sarah Irving
Electronic Intifada
November 2, 2015


Later sequences of work such as “In Exile” (2008), “In Transition” (2010), “Euphoria” (2010), “In Translation” (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?


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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



To quote the titles of two of the seven cycles on show, Sabella goes from his exile all the way to independence, through an equal number of stops he has made – as both man and artist – from 2004 to 2014. As we have seen, these six stages are accompanied by a transitional area called In Transition. The places portrayed are not real, but rooted in memory, onto which he grafts his imagination, with no link to objectivity or the past.


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Steve Sabella – Photography 1997-2014






By Hubertus Von Amelunxen


The circular movement, in which the world rises and falls as if in serpentines, stopped in each individual image and dynamized again in the correspondence between the images, seems to cast off any burden in the frenzy, like a wet dog shaking to dry himself. Dancing images, albeit a dance macabre. But it can also be a euphoric dance; both border on delirium or longing…

In Transition actually marks a transition and negotiates, as it were, between the temporal constellation of one’s own biographemes of presence and absence, dwelling and exile, identity and loss, and the spatial constellation of possibilities, of alterity.


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Stages of Transition. Visualizing Exile in the Work of Steve Sabella






By Dorothea Schoene
Afterimage – Volume 39, Number 6


While “In Exile” has a rather constructed, fixed geometry, its sharp angles are replaced by a more fluid layout. Sabella, finding an accelerated comfort with abandoning previous artistic and emotional constraints, created the series “In Transition.” Here the artist uses images of natural elements such as grass and trees. Standing for growth and movement, yet also something that was rooted, these are used to indicate a first step in coming to terms with his state of uprootedness.


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Exodus and Back






By Myrna Ayad


In Exile’s subject matter metaphorically takes on themes of entry and exit, openings and closings, inside and outside. he was relieved, happy even, but unaware of what would come next until a chance discussion with a friend in dubai in 2010 became the proverbial Pandora’s Box and BOOm! In Transition came next, stemming from an aware- ness that, “there is no need to create art just from depression.” Sabella’s hands shook as he shot trees and grass in london – elements chosen for their organic quality and their allusion to growth, movement and change. Some areas of the imag- es are heavily blurred, while others are distinctly clear – an intentional pictorial definition of the series’ name. One cannot dispute that the work suggests a phase-like, in-limbo, quality.


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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.


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Euphoria and Beyond







By Charlotte Bank
May 13, 2011


The series “In Transition” relates to early phases of this new state of mind, one of greater lightness, filled with the effort to “unlock the aesthetic and beauty” buried in the artist’s brain. 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.”


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Steve Sabella in Conversation with Sara Rossino





By Sara Rossino
The Changing Room Exhibition Catalogue, Curated by Aida Eltorie


My life is what leads my practice. All my artworks since the mid 1990s are like a narrative and it is enough to go through the titles to develop a picture of my life. Since that time, I have been going through endless stages of self-introspec- tions. Notice the title of my first major artwork in 1997 was Search, then Iden- tity (2002), End of Days (2003), Till the End (2004), Jerusalem in Exile (2005), Exit (2006), In Exile (2008), Settlement Six Israelis & One Palestinian (2008), In Transition (2010), Euphoria (2010), and Beyond Euphoria (2011), to name a few. Any reader would notice that there is a narrative unfolding which is personal, and in many ways my work acts like a vi-sual novel.


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“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…


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