Featured Artist: Steve Sabella, Beyond Palestine

15 June, 2022
Steve Sabel­la, “Great March of Return,” 2019 — a col­lage includ­ing over 1,000 pho­tographs cap­tured by five Pales­tin­ian jour­nal­ists from Gaza of the crowds who have gath­ered every Fri­day from March 2018 to end the Israeli occu­pa­tion. These images are con­trast­ed with pho­tos tak­en of out­er space merg­ing the her­met­i­cal­ly sealed Strip with infin­i­ty, cre­at­ing a mon­u­men­tal “present-day fres­co” demon­strat­ing a nation’s eter­nal fight for liberation.


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.

Steve Sabel­la in his Berlin studio.

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 (2020)


Steve Sabel­la, “Else­where XV,” 70x70cm, 2020.


“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.”


Visit the Elsewhere page here.



Everland (2020)


Steve Sabel­la, “Ever­land,” a col­lage of Pales­tin­ian embroi­dery, 2020.


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. 


Visit the Everland page.

See the list of Steve Sabella collections.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments