There is an unmistakable connection between visual arts and yoga, a sacred link if you wish. Both engage human beings through the creation of a transcendental space in which time ceases to exist and a direct link to the super-consciousness is established.
This space serves as a setting for both the process of creation, and the action of consuming visual arts, followed by the subsequent emotional and intellectual response. Yoga provides a person with tools to access these states of consciousness from which all art originates, and in which it can be truly grasped, even promising a continuous state in which such access becomes unlimited, allowing the benefit of true emancipation from the self-imposed constrictions of a human mind.
Ever since I was a small child, I have been intrigued by the power of the visual arts, engaging in drawing, painting, and later in the development of black and white photography. Once I fully embarked on my yoga journey, I separated myself from the idea of following the arts as a vocation, but continued to admire it from an intimate distance. Regularly visiting museums and exhibitions, I finally had the chance to touch this sphere in my work at the ID festival in Berlin. This is where I first got to know about Steve Sabella, a Berlin-based artist from East Jerusalem —a nomad, a person of many talents indeed. He is a visual artist, a writer, a speaker, a social activist, and a recipient of numerous awards.
Here, in the following interview conducted via email, I would like to give the artist himself, Steve Sabella, the chance to speak about his ideas of what makes art and yoga so similar.
Anastasia Shevchenko: Steve, first of all, how did you become an artist?
Steve Sabella: I don’t know if I am an artist per se, because we are always in the process of changing. For many years, I was careful not to use this label, but I’ve come to understand that we can only relate to the world we live in through categories. I still see these categories as limiting to the human imagination. And probably that’s why in the process of yoga we try to dissociate ourselves from our surroundings, and float freely. The more educated we become, the more we realize how limiting our knowledge is.
AS: Is it true that a real artist has no other choice but to submit her/himself to this work, no matter how difficult it usually is, both practically and emotionally speaking?
Steve Sabella: Regarding art, the eternal question is still looming: what is art?—and subsequently, what is an artist? Art has that same power as yoga to suspend and even penetrate reality, making us see things in a new way. In terms of the second question, I can only relate to my experience. For me, an artist is an observer, somebody who questions and interrogates the self constantly, somebody who looks at the world from multiple angles.
Art is not about submitting the self to the work, but rather, submitting to the self itself [the true self, Anastasia’s guess]. The work is a byproduct, is the end of such a process. This explains why, when I feel a project is finished, I am able to move onto another immediately. The process itself is what I call art.
Submission and surrender could be accurate terms for describing the artist’s underlying theme in life. I would add to these two also the word “honesty,” which is the key ingredient to the process of yoga and the creation of powerful art. Artists who lie to themselves can never produce works that touch the hearts of people.