Between Light and Dark
(Steve Sabella’s Upcoming Solo Exhibitions, Monograph Launch and Screenings of New Documentary)
Steve Sabella has formed a body of work that reflects and responds to his oscillating states of disillusionment and acceptance that resulted from his experience of the oppressive consequences of living under occupation. As Hubertus von Amelunxen writes in the forthcoming monograph on Sabella’s work, “Sabella is a young artist whose life is intimately entwined with his work, a work devoted since the 1990s to place and—should the term exist—other-than-place (Widerorten), other-than-encounters (Entgegnungen). He sets up a world with his camera and contradicts that set-up. Between light and dark he separates out the things he sees.” Sabella chose to live in exile, and eventually liberated himself from it. His belief in the power of the mind and imagination to reveal other realities not bound to constructed systems, has resulted in a body of multifaceted works that compel the viewer to join his artistic journey.
Steve Sabella - Photography 1997-2014: this monograph is published by Hatje Cantz in collaboration with the Akademie der Künste Berlin featuring text by Hubertus von Amelunxen and foreword by Kamal Boullata, this monograph offers a critical view of his work. “[Sabella’s works] comprise a significant tableau of possible transitions and processes of dissolution between world and image, image and world. The book reads time and history out of the photographs and thus describes the genesis of Sabella’s photographic oeuvre under the aspects of exile, identity, migration, and the divided topologies of the 21st century. Sabella uses photography as the artistic language of existential exile.” The monograph will be launched at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, The 2Photographers’ Gallery in London, as well as at the Istanbul and Verona art fairs and at his upcoming solo exhibitions.
Steve Sabella, born 1975 in Jerusalem, Palestine, is a Berlin-based artist who uses photography and photographic installation as his principal modes of expression. In 1997 he earned a three-year art photography degree at the Musrara School of Photography in Jerusalem. In 2007 he received a BA in Visual Studies at Empire State College of the State University of New York. Through a Chevening Scholarship he earned an MA in Photographic Studies in 2008 at the University of Westminster with a Caparo Award of Distinction, and through a Saïd Foundation Scholarship he earned his second MA in Art Business in 2009 at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Sabella was one of the winners of the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year Award in 2002. He was a shortlisted and exhibited artist in the 2008 Independent Photographers Terry O’Neil Award in the United Kingdom. He received the 2008 Ellen Auerbach Award from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, which included in part the publishing of Sabella’s 2014 monograph.
From the late 1990s through 2007, Sabella was based in Jerusalem and exhibited internationally as well as extensively throughout Palestine, including eleven solo shows. He was one of the commissioned artists for the Istanbul Collection donated to the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art in Sarajevo. In 2009 he was one of the commissioned artists for the inauguration of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, where he presented the installation Settlement––Six Israelis & One Palestinian. His work was included in the show Keep Your Eyes on the Wall as a part of Les rencontres d’Arles photographie, Edition 2013, and in 2014 he participated in the FotoFest Biennial exhibition View from Inside. In 2014 he was commissioned by the Bahrain National Museum, where he presented his photographic series Sinopia as part of the touring exhibition Recreational Purpose.
His works have been collected by the British Museum in London; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha; Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait; Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art in Sarajevo; Cuadro Fine Art Gallery in Dubai; Salsali Private Museum in Dubai; Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah; Samawi Collection in Dubai; as well as being acquired by several private collections.
Sabella has given art talks and presentations at various institutions, including the University of Cambridge; Turin University; School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London; University of East London; Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino in Turin; Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait; Rostock University; Akademie der Künste in Berlin; British Museum; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
Among the several TV documentaries and short films on Sabella’s work are Jerusalem in Exile and Kan Yama Kan, two episodes in the documentary project ‘Beyond Blue & Gray’ by Eyes Infinite Films (2007); Europe through Their Eyes by Ma’an TV Productions (2010); Artist of the Month, aired on IkonoMENASA (2011); Artist of the Month featured on IkonoTV (2013); Arts InSight: Who is Steve Sabella? produced by Ernie Manouse (2014); and In the Darkroom with Steve Sabella by Nadia J. Kabalan (2014). He also appeared as an invited speaker at TEDx Marrakech (2012).
Sabella has published numerous essays, including several as a regular contributor to Contemporary Practices journal, such as ‘Palestinian Conceptual Art, Emily Jacir Shifting to an Art that Engages the Mind of the Viewer’ (2009), ‘Is the United Arab Emirates Constructing its Art History? The Mechanisms that Confer Value to Art’ (2009), ‘“Valued”’ in the “West” Sold in the “East”’ (2010), ‘Reconsidering the Value of Palestinian Art & Its Journey to the Art Market’ (Part 1, 2010; Part 2, 2011), ‘The Business of Looking’ (2011), and ‘The Colonization of the Imagination’ (2012). Sabella’s essay ‘Hostage’ (2014) was published by Phaidon in From Galilee to Negev by Stephen Shore, and his autobiography, titled The Artist’s Curse, is forthcoming.