From the Written to the Visual: Depopulating The Myths of Palestine In Steve Sabella's Photography | Siba Aldabbagh | PHD Thesis | SOAS University of London

2017 

Complicating memories and disrupting linear narratives based on literary and scriptural canonical texts, Darwish opposes the hegemonies of globalisation, the affirmation of the Israeli state, the notion of a unified and singular Palestinian nation. Peace for Darwish can not only begin when the present is read in terms of memories, whether embodied in literary, political or scriptural narratives. These memories, which contribute to dichotomous constructs of identity, must be questioned by creating new metaphors to communicate problems beyond the political. By employing such new metaphors, his poetry became a form of resistance against memories and found a new freedom to contemplate existential issues. This change in approach to the cultural productions is not only seen in Palestinian writers. Visual artists began to take the a similar approach in their relation to Palestine. One such figure is Steve Sabella. Sabella works towards the complication‘ of redundant visual symbols circulating in the media of Palestine and Palestinians.
Sabella‘s photography exhibits a resistance both to new global order of communication that depends on the fast circulation of photographic images. He iscritical of how these amount to what Bauman calls ‘imagined totalities‘, the creation of new fixed memories of Palestine and Palestinians in the imagination of consumers of media, reflecting old national priorities, which in turn project reductive and totalising visual models of what constitutes Palestinian and Israeli individuals. Similar to Darwish‘s literary metaphors, Sabella‘s photography produces a new aesthetics that brings a twenty-first century understanding of how to communicate visually through depopulating images of ‗imagined totalities‘ inherent in globalist and national stereotypes. Unlike Darwish however, Sabella was not canonised whilst in Palestine.

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