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Exodus and Back | Myrna Ayad | Canvas

Nov, 2011


One of the rather ironic points of departure in understanding Steve Sabella’s body of work is his name. Whereas his oeuvre is defined by an intense desire to identify and place himself as a Palestinian (and the struggle that this entails), Myrna Ayad finds, among other things, that it is his name which instantly displaces him. 

Steve Sabella has often wondered if the roots of his alienation began with his family name – which is italian – and espe- cially so in a region where first, and particularly last, names ‘place’ people. So much so, that one’s nationality, religious sect and sometimes even residential suburb, can be discerned. “The prob- lem is how people perceive my name,” Sabella says, likening this ‘predicament’ to the late Palestin- ian literary theorist and political activist, edward Saïd, whose seminal book, Memoirs: Out of Place, tackles, among other things, his name as a basis of preliminary comprehension or misjudgement...


It then seems as though Sabella’s In Transition hit the nail right on the head and snowballed into a mental ecstasy. In the same week that he shot images for In Transition, came Euphoria, “like an explosion!” Here, the images take on a chromosomal quality; the apparent veins and arteries clearly connect to one another and Sabella’s DNA is unmistakably lucid. He realised that there must be other “galaxies”, that his mental ascension couldn’t stop there – “I wanted to reach a supreme state of aesthetics” – and incidentally, a Beyond Euphoria began to take shape, the Arab Spring exploded into life.


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