Volume VI, 2010
Palestinian-born artist Steve Sabella could well be a younger, more alternative, more artistic version of the late Edward Said. Like the literary exile who lived in an enclave of a world he had created for himself on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, surrounded and consumed and embedded in the construct of texts that deconstructed the reality he struggled with, Sabella is one who lives in an equal state of alienation – confined to an exile that transcends place: London, and rather is contained in the bounds of his mind. A mind that like Said’s did deconstructs only to rebuild again, but in this case, using a terminology of visual narratives.
It was perhaps, with him as well, a seed of displacement that was placed in the very second he was born. “I love my name,” Sabella says, “but people had a problem with it. It placed me out of context.” And he was, in many ways - born in Jerusalem, to a Christian family, in the Muslim Quarter. As a child he belonged neither to the Muslim or Christian quarter, and “always”, he says, “ felt different at home, and completely out of place at school. People had a problem with who I was.”
The result of being born into a culture with this identity that was formed with perhaps the malfunction of creating difference rather than sameness, was the foundation for a mind and voice that had scope to sculpt itself even further in its deviation from the norm. “Monks go out into the desert, in isolation, to lose
their identity,” Sabella says. “I decided to lose mine, and become a stranger only to myself.”