Exile is not only a form of division, but of multiplication. Edward Said, in his “Reflections on Exile,” expresses this multiplicity in aesthetic terms: “Most people are principally aware of one culture, one setting, one home. Exiles are aware of at least two, and this plurality of vision gives rise to an awareness of simultaneous dimensions, an awareness that—to borrow a phrase from music—is contrapuntal.” Not just contrapuntal, but col- laged: Said uses a musical metaphor, but for artist Steve Sabella, this is a visual reality. In his abstract, photographic collages, Sabella gives visual form to this “awareness of simultaneous dimensions.” In a 2008 series, In Exile, for example, Sabella collages im- ages of thin, European windows—fragmented and superimposed, these windows are not a transparent frame through which to view an outside but a flat surface, dense, rhythmic, decentered, pulsating and opaque.
These basic precepts which orient Sabella’s collage practice—fragmentation, repetition, no center, elimination of visual clutter—are the same which structure his first book- length writing project, The Parachute Paradox (2016). A memoir might be the last thing one expects from an artist who has so adamantly expressed his frustration with labels. Literally—Sabella has shown recent works without identifying information or explanatory texts. More figuratively, Sabella steers away from questions of identity in interviews and written works. The Israeli-Palestinian context make even introductory questions like “Where are you from?” charged—Sabella often responds that he is a citizen of planet Earth or a temporary visitor from outer space.
The Parachute Paradox | Second Version