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Preserving the Image | Robin Mann | Canvas

July 2014


The decision to make the work in question – the so-called ‘signature’ image of the exhibition Fragments at Berloni Gallery in London – was a relatively easy one. Steve Sabella has worked in a state of exile in the past, but, more recently, has come to terms with the notion that perhaps it is not solely him who is forced into a state of exile, but the city of Jerusalem itself.
38 Days Of Re-Collection bears witness to the time that the artist spent residing within a Palestinian house that had been ‘occupied’ for decades, passed down through generations of Israelis. The photographs that Sabella took during the time spent as denizen range from ornate patterns found on floor tiles to the very pots and pans used by the family; lone Jurassic to multiple knives; family portraits to empty chairs. Denial of access for a Palestinian born and living in Jerusalem is not a new concept for Sabella; what is required from him though, in order to harness and advance ‘the image’, is something we see more rigorously here than perhaps ever seen in prior works. All of the fragments are indubitable relics: decades of ‘covering up’; paint that has refreshed the very surroundings and confines of Jerusalem is the medium (the paper), onto which Sabella develops the image. t is striking how much the work is reminiscent of a continent itself. Jagged edges of peeled paint define the end of the snapshot, cut off listlessly and creating its own border. Interweaving layers of varying faded oil tones and plaster applied to the Jerusalem city walls from which it is peeled, creating a lattice of colour, gradations of brown through green. We are nonetheless looking at a black-and-white image.


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