Steve Sabella, born in Jerusalem in 1975, is a Palestinian artist based in London. He is the holder of the Ellen Auerbach Award (2008) granted by the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts) in Berlin, shortlisted for the Terry O’Neil Award of Contemporary Photography in the UK (2008), and was a prize winner in the 2002 A.M. Qattan Foundation Young Artist Award in Palestine. His ongoing project Jerusalem in Exile explores the mental image Palestinians hold of Jerusalem and has gained international attention, leading to its production into a short documentary film. Currently, Sabella is giving a visual form through photomontage to the ‘state of mind’ of living in ‘mental exile. This new work, in exile, will be published by the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts) in Berlin as an art book in 2009. Sabella serializes different single images to form a kind of overall structured image, a super-image. The function of the super-image is broader and bigger than that of the individual images it is composed of. His metaphor of the city (of Jerusalem) is that of windows or window-fronts or parts of house facades. There is light coming from within, and the tilting and mirroring (in symmetries) adds dynamism to the super-image thus created. The characterisation of the lives of those in the houses are given indirectly by parts of architecture. The people stay out of the image. They may have it in their minds, the may love Jerusalem, but they don’t show up. What kind of love is that? It verges on the myth. And Sabella has set out to deconstruct it. His imagery is serial and proliferates, but it is not redupzlicative. Dynamism is a driving force, transferable to socio-political change.
It seems noteworthy that this interpretation of Jerusalem has some similarity with traditions in the West. Western cathedrals are, indeed, symbols of the heavenly Jerusalem.18 So it seems a general structure to interpret a city, inluding the emotional side, its myth as well as its reality, by way of architecture. Because myth is largely a state of mind, not action. One’s actions can be influenced by myths, but action reigns in the realm of reality. Anything can be deconstructed. Deconstruction, however,is more than a method. Deconstruction is an attitude, a state of mind, a determination. Sometimes the deconstruction of an aesthetic complex results in a reconstruction of its original conditions: By learning how a certain state in society is by deconstructing it, we understand through a way of reconstruction how it came about in the first place. This show leads to deep insight into such complex conceptions. The show will end on July 3rd, 2009.