It was a busy year for Berlin-based Palestinian artist Steve Sabella, with 2014 seeing four exhibitions and a monograph (Steve Sabella: Photography 1997–2014 by Hatje Cantz). The collaborative approach of presenting exhibitions and coordinating the book launch in the UK, Kuwait, Italy and UAE allowed for audiences to make new readings of his works, as each interconnected exhibition presented new arrangements of work. This new way of viewing allows for new layers to come to the surface and new contexts and links to be made. Sabella’s exhibition series began in London at Berloni Gallery, where Fragments (6 March–10 May) marked the artist’s first solo show in the UK. Featuring works from 2008, 2012 and 2014, he investigates his permanent state of exile through the relationship he creates between images and reality. Layers (21 September–21 October) at CAP Kuwait featured the new series Independence (2013) and 38 Days Of Re-Collection (2014) alongside Metamorphosis (2012) and Exit (2006) alongside a book launch on the opening night.
Finally, Verona’s International Center for Photography Scavi Scaligeri presented Archaeology Of The Future (8 October‒16 November 2014), with Meem Gallery in Dubai finishing off with Independence (28 October–6 December). New work by Sabella also marked a significant shift from his more abstracted style of recent years to the use of figures again. “Since I freed my art from my personal narrative, I went back to focusing on my research in decoding the visual world we live in,” explained Sabella. “This visual research is leading me to explore what came first, the world or its image. To do this, I unveil hidden visual palimpsests that were not apparent to my eye before. Perhaps I needed to come to terms with my exile and eventually scrape away the political layers that guided the viewers towards an almost predetermined meaning from my work.”