Steve Sabella, immagini e immaginazione


Il Torinese

16 June 2018


““..We present the photographic works of Steve Sabella , one of the greatest exponents of international avant-garde photography and that, until June 28th, we find again in Turin, guest of the metroquadro gallery  By Marco Sassone.



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Re-constructing Dasein: The Works of Steve Sabella


Institute for Middle East Understanding

By Charlotte Bank
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.


view on IMEU website

Perturbed Visions


Walls and Margins Exhibition Catalogue

Barjeel Foundation, Sharjah

By Nat Muller

November 2015



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.



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


If the Arab uprisings represent an effort at collective liberation, Sabella has defined himself and much of his work within the context of individual liberation. I brought up one of his collage pieces from the Metamorphosis series (2012), which is composed of barbed wire, a component he had previously described as symbolizing his liberation in that he had “stitched his wounds with barbed wire.” I relate my interpretation: the barbed wire represents Israeli occupation, and in his attempt at liberation, Sabella is still confined by an illiberal force. Turns out I’m off the mark. “I have found liberation,” he tells with conviction. While the occupation and sense of exile continue, liberation, Sabella tells me by paraphrasing the words of a philosopher Vilém Flusser, comes “not with forgetting the lost homeland, but by coming to terms with it, and thus accepting it.” Sabella has come to accept his place in the world and that has been freeing.


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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. Archaeology of the future


December 24, 2014


PDF (Italian)

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.



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Free-Falling Into the Future


Independence Exhibition Catalogue

Meem Gallery, Dubai

By Madeline Yale Preston



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.



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view exhibition on Meem Gallery website

Steve Sabella: An Encounter


Archeology of the Future exhibition catalogue 

The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri, Verona

By Karin Adrian von Roques




Steve’s window pieces are an example of his artistic approach, how he studies images and finds loopholes where he can jump from one dimension to another. The windows are imagined windows or images of windows that he perceived in his imagination.


order on Maretti website
view exhibition on Boxart Gallery website

Discoveries of a Mental Journey


Archeology of the Future exhibition catalogue

The International Center of Photography Scavi Scaligeri, Verona 

By Beatrice Benedetti


…Barbed wire, a symbol of physical coercion, here seems to heal the wounds it causes. Similarly, the wall around the occupied Palestinian territories becomes as permeable as its shimmering reflection in the water. Going beyond the boundaries of the photographic image, both to the ancient art of mosaic and to the new world of multimedia, Sabella thus finds a place of his own in today’s acentric world.


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view exhibition on Boxart Gallery website

Beyond Palestine


Layers Exhibition Catalogue

Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait

By Malu Halasa


In Metamorphosis (2012), Sabella explores the Palestinian landscape through the repetition of images he photographed in London and Berlin. In 160 x 160 cm light-jet prints, a single motif – a window with a lone cactus, security grills, barbed wire or what looks like a once demolished and now bricked-up wall – is repeated in an explosion of an organized yet chaotic reoccurrence. The images capture the day in, day out monotony of the occupation for those who endure it. From these images one gets the distinct impression that the unseen participants in these cruel, 3-D Escher-like assemblies are either constrained by what is taking place all around them, or have become inured to its relentless constancy.



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Layers Exhibition Catalogue
Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait

By Abed Al Kadiri


In Metamorphosis (2012), Steve is torn between two very dierent worlds: an inner world of inspired isolation and an external one that provides a premonition of hope. His collages present dismantled forms that become distinctly separate from their original contexts.The identifiable elements are often polarizing – barbed wire against the blue sky; cactus flowers and closed windows; steel bars and transcendent light. Do these works embody a new transitional stage in his life?


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Steve Sabella – Photography 1997-2014

By Hubertus Von Amelunxen



As a counterpart, the image internally disseminates a fragment into a diversity of confrontations. The division of the pictures features no center; photography’s central perspective has been shattered, and in each repetition of the motif the latter is mounted in a difference to itself, as if spoken to the echo. The genesis of the image is an intuitive process… And like In Exile and Euphoria, a rhythmic movement is at work in the images; now an arabesque sweep moving across the image, now a clearly contrapuntal arrangement, so that the images correspond to an almost musical writing, a score or notation.



Read excerpts, reviews and view photos of the monograph
Order on Hatje Cantz website

harpers bazaar

Review: Fragments


Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia

By Sheyma Buali
July/August 2014


Each section of Fragments uncovers a different side of Sabella’s mental, physical and familial worlds. Honest and forthright, the works express anxieties associated with being in exile. Metamorphosis (2012), for instance, is another disembodied world of fractured imagery, only this time we see walls rather than windows, and bricks so densely packed that the thick cement between them creates an obstructive barrier. This motif is repeated, producing an image of claustrophobic occlusion. In others, barbed wire sticks through the surface of the walls, knotted and stitched through the images, resembling a hastily repaired wound.



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


Cedar Wings Magazine
August 2014


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?”



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

Spatial Reflections


IkonoTV – Carte Blanche

By Charlotte Bank



Steve Sabella has since his series “In Exile” (2008) been using multi-angled photomontages to investigate his mental map as he strove to come to terms with the condition of inner exile and dislocation that defines his existence since an early age. In the following series, “In Transition” (2010), “Euphoria” (2010) and “Beyond Euphoria” (2011), like he did in “In Exile”, he delved into the depths of his own mind and studied the complexities of his alternating feelings of anxiety and deliverance. In his new work, “Metamorphosis” (2012), Sabella seems to have reached a new stage on this path, a stage of maturity, of meticulously “reconstructing” his self, as he states on his website. The images that form the basis of the series are all somehow related to Palestinian reality, the separation wall, barbed wire, the cactus plant behind the window. But these images are in no way simple statements of cultural belonging. Rather, each of them appears to hold an inner conflict between the outer appearance and the inner function, or between the obvious connotation and possible other significations. Thus, Sabella has chosen to turn barbed wire into a method to “stitch wounds together” or as “organic extensions of a tree branch” ( The spectator is drawn into a whirl, like a kaleidoscope by the pattern of plants and wire, blurring the boundaries between the two elements. This ultimate metamorphosis of a symbol of restricted movement and forced control into a whirling movement of vegetal forms appears as the crucial step to overcome those burdens that weigh upon humans in conflict zones around the world and could constitute an important step in a necessary process to overcome the wounds of a tormented history.


Steve Sabella’s Ecdysis: The Catharsis of Metamorphosis


Contemporary Practices – Volume XI

By Dorothea Schoene



His motifs for this series are powerful symbols of Palestinian life, yet in his arrangement of them, the artist de-connotes them. He aims for a new visual experience – scattered images, at a second glance, reveal new, underlying structures. “In my photo collages the consciousness of form (what to collage – in essence what to photograph) is what enables the collage at a certain point to achieve its visual unity, trigger different reactions, and go beyond the first indexical association of the photographed image. So when I photograph a barbed wire, the immediate connotation would be the restriction of movement, but it could also refer to pain, physical pain if one gets stuck in it. An unexpected connotation would be to use it as a stitching thread, to stitch wounds. Notice how the wire appears to go in the space and out it. That idea is in conflict with its form and function – this is exactly the opposition I want to focus on in Metamorphosis. It is the conflict between form and function, between visualisation and perception.”



view on Contemporary Practices website

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


Afterimage – Volume 39, Number 6

By Dorothea Schoene



Sabella’s work, then, almost literally serves as an illustration for Edward Said’s seminal essay on the subject. In “Reflections on Exile” (2000), Said argues that critical insight and perception of exile produce a “pleasure” that may surmount the “grimness of outlook” of those actually experiencing exile. This does not mean, however, a satisfaction with the situation: “Exile is never the state of being satisfied, placid, or secure.”