Steve Sabella, Beyond Palestine
An artist, photographer, writer and world citizen, Steve Sabella is our featured artist for TMR 2 • STORIES, as his phenomenal range of inquiry and expression transcends borders and identity, reaching the universal.
Born in Jerusalem, Palestine, he is a Berlin-based international artist using photography and art installation as his primary forms of expression. His research focuses on the genealogy and archaeology of the image. He is the author of the award-winning memoir, The Parachute Paradox, published by Kerber Verlag (Berlin, 2016), tackling the colonization of the imagination. The book won the 2017 Eric Hoffer Award and the 2016 Nautilus Book Awards for best memoir.
In 2008, Sabella received the Ellen Auerbach Award by nomination from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, leading to a monograph covering twenty years of his art published by Hatje Cantz (Berlin, 2014) with texts by Hubertus von Amelunxen, president of the European Graduate School in Switzerland, and a foreword by artist and art historian Kamal Boullata who described Sabella’s work as a dream to discover.
Sabella studied three years art photography at the Jerusalem School of Photography Musrara (1994–1997). He received a BA in Visual Studies from the State University of New York in 2007. Through a Chevening Scholarship in 2008, he earned a master’s degree in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster, London, graduating with a Caparo Award of Distinction, granted to the highest achieving scholar in the art university. In 2009, he earned his second master’s in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.
Sabella’s art is in the British Museum collection in London. MATHAF, The Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, where he was one of the 23 artists commissioned for its inauguration in 2010. The Arab World Institute in Paris has twenty artworks in their permanent collection. Bahrain National Museum upon a commission to interpret the country visually. Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art in Sarajevo. Claude & France Lemand, Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Salsali Private Museum in Dubai, Barjeel Art Foundation, Contemporary Art Platform Kuwait, the Samawi Collection, among other museums & prominent private collections.
Sabella exhibited with curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, directors of Hamburger Banhof Museum in Berlin, in Told, Untold, Retold for the opening of MATHAF. With Bartomeu Mari, Marco Bazzini and Christine Macel, curator of the 2017 Venice Biennale, in Nel Mezzo del Mezzo at Museo Riso in Palermo. With Venetia Porter, in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa at The British Museum in London. Sabella participated in art biennales, including the First Biennial of Photography from the Arab World at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie and Institue du Monde Arabe, Paris (2016). FotoFest Biennial, View from Inside, Houston (2014) curated by Karin Adrian von Roques; and at Les Rencontres d’Arles (2013), France.
Sabella’s many solo exhibitions include a major retrospective at the International Center for Photography Scavi Scaligeri Museum in Verona (2014), Archaeology of the Future.
“Elsewhere is a journey to the land that once was, the land, the place that lives in our imagination. This is my seminal work after all those years of looking into images digging to discover their hidden realities. I recently wrote about how the archaeology of the future is the archaeology of the image and its genealogy. These are black and white images, photochromes from nineteenth century historic Palestine, with a few images from Syria and Lebanon, colored in the past to give them a sense of reality. I collaged them, recreating the feeling of the place, as if one had traveled through a time machine and was suddenly present.”
The nine squares of Everland is a photo collage of Palestinian embroidery decorations sewn and woven on a wide variety of traditional costumes. This disappearing tradition is passed from generation to generation by women who sew patterns and motifs to reveal their heritage, ancestry, and place of origin. The embroidery is derived from geometric forms.
Everland celebrates all the charm that comes out of Palestine, a place where everything gets disrupted. Yet, the collage-style enables the different cross stitches, among other techniques, to penetrate deep into new borders, creating unique designs that look as if they represent every other culture.
Every time Everland will be on display, the squares will be put in a different constellation, including their orientation to any side. This way, everland will always have endless possibilities, creating a new visual, forever changing.