The Harrowed Hands of Palestine


Electronic Intifada

By Sarah Irving
November 2, 2015


Later sequences of work such as “In Exile” (2008), “In Transition” (2010), “Euphoria” (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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Steve Sabella – Photography 1997-2014


By Hubertus Von Amelunxen



For the series Search (1997) Sabella worked with an infrared film that made all the contrasts in the light of the things even more evident and pronounced. Whether these are trees, cliffs, water, or leaves, insignia of nature, photographed in Jerusalem and elsewhere, they oscillate between dazzling light and intense darkness. Apart from views being fragmented and dissected, trees, leaves, ears of corn, cliffs, and gardens being focused on, the things are alienated, “so similar they are distorted,” to use Benjamin’s terms… They do not return as they were or could have been, but are condensed in the gaze.


read excerpts, reviews and view photos of the monograph

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Steve Sabella – I am From Jerusalem


Exhibition Catalogue – The Empty Quarter Gallery, Dubai

By Christa Paula


It has been noted that, in contrast to the older generation of Palestinian artists, the young contemporaries have opted to avoid the pitfalls of overtly political image production. Sabella’s first three series (Search 1997, Identity 2002, End of Days 2003) do not show Jerusalem. Instead they steer the viewer into depopulated landscapes beyond its city walls, offering glimpses of harsh beauty and superficially integrated alien objects. Light, in different spectra, is significant and is utilized to create an imaginary reality, a promise of relief in a world beyond the visible.



Exodus and Back



By Myrna Ayad Canvas


Crucially, whereas Sabella’s name may mislead, the titles of his artworks do not. In Exile, Euphoria, Exit, Beyond Euphoria, In Transition and a host of others are literal descriptions of his state of mind. This makes ‘reading’his photographic works a lot more fluid and, in many respects, helps unfold a photo diary of sorts. it also accounts for a succinct psychological portfolio of a man who has searched for himself through art since 1994 and through his first body of work in 1997, aptly titled Search.



Steve Sabella in Conversation with Sara Rossino


The Changing Room Exhibition Catalogue, Curated by Aida Eltorie

By Sara Rossino


I wrote in 1997: “I created myself a New World, My World”. Today, I feel more like I have created myself a New Self. In Jerusalem, I never breathed fresh air. I had to exit to the skies to survive, but one sky was not enough. I needed to journey to the galaxies. There, I found Euphoria and Beyond Euphoria. For the first time in my life, I feel I have a break and I can breath some fresh air.




Steve Sabella – In Exile – Conversation with the Artist


Exhibition Catalogue, Metroquadro Gallery, Turin

By Sara Rossino  

May 2010


Growing up in Jerusalem, therefore, Steve already felt that he did not belong to that dimension or to any of the proposed classifications and so, “to escape the rapid changes in Jerusalem and its transformation into a city which was foreign to its own inhabitants, particularly to those who grew up there”, he begins to build himself a “New World” which he, himself, defines later as a Hyperreality.


The search for a mental dimension, hidden beyond the visible, the possibility of “another” reality which characterizes the more recent works, is already present in his first works from 1997 to 2003. “Who wants to see the invisible has to penetrate more deeply into the visible”. With these words Sabella accompanies the Search series in 1997, in which the use of infra­red photography allows him to imagine and define the existence of another world beyond the visible, in which the images of reality are transfigured to connote a mental galaxy, Mentalopia, as the artist now defines it, in which he finds refuge, a space which he proposes instead of the reality to which he feels he does not belong.


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Steve Sabella’s ‘Search’ 


The Jerusalem Times

November 15, 2002

By Tahsin Yaqeen


The things that Sabella is looking at and photographing are no longer just solid things; plants and ground, they are feelings and imaginations those things possess as if he were moving the colour and visual energy inside these things through his sensitive camera.