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38 Days of Re-Collection


B&W white film negatives (generated from digital images) printed with b&w photo emulsion spread on color paint fragments collected from Jerusalem’s Old City house walls. The photographs were taken in an Occupied Palestinian house since 1948.


Solo Exhibition | Berloni Gallery | London

From the Prolegomenon of Steve Sabella: Photography 1997 – 2014 | Kerber Verlag

Hubertus von Amelunxen

In 2009 Sabella rented a house in Ein Karim in Jerusalem, which a Palestinian family had abandoned, to secure themselves, when they heard about the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948. He stayed in it for thirty-eight days, taking photographs of objects—utensils, walls, pictures—visually frisking the history of the place. Then, in his parental home and in other houses in the Old City of Jerusalem, he removed pieces of walls, little bits of painted plaster, or just of stained chalk. The color photographs were copied onto black-and white film, and the pieces of fresco, flayed bits of wall, were covered in an emulsion, and the negatives from the house he lived in projected and fixed on that emulsion. Because of the different colors of the carrier, the black-and-white images take on a mysterious, dreamlike presence that really belongs to no place and no time. They look ghostly; are the absence of presence and the presence of absence, and it is hard to decide which place or time they belong to.

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Fragments from our Beautiful Future | Kerber Verlag

Almút Sh. Bruckstein

Steve Sabella’s 38 Days of Re-Collection is comprised of black-and-white photographs imprinted upon colored shards of paint. Peeled from the walls of houses in the Old City of Jerusalem, including the house in which Sabella was born, the fragments present a unique archive of personal memory and displacement.

What appears to be findings from an archaeological dig are in essence pieces of filmic illusion: we see interiors, kitchen utensils, domestic galleries of family portraits, toys and other personal items from an Israeli household residing in an early-20th-century Arab house. The original owners escaped in 1948 with their belongings seized and their estate occupied by the State. Sabella‘s photographic fragments, shards of a mural, contain detailed patterns, shadows of floor tiles typical for the elaborate architecture of the “Arab house”—in doing so, the series claims the artist‘s own “law of return.”

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Robin Mann | Berloni Gallery | London

It 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.


Trent Morse | Art+Auction

Through his art, Sabella grapples with life in exile, with its distorting and destructive consequences. His is an art of understanding; it is poetic and suppresses neither expulsion nor salvation.

Shifting Sands: Photography and Beyond

Malu Halasa | Beyond Palestine | CAP Kuwait

Some fragments show decorative Roman and Mediterranean motifs from tiled floors, or a blurred outline of an old fashioned Palestinian nuclear family. There are ghostly images of a traditional kitchen, the lone teakettle or clusterings of cutlery. All of the fragments attest to the lives lived, lost and forgotten within those spaces. This is a highly charged emotional work, which has at its essence time travel: exile and return, reconstruction of homeland and the past, but above all, the impermanence of the human condition.


Palestinian Tragedy Through the Eyes of the Artist

"In my work I engage in an archeology of the future, which is not necessarily based on finding physical objects, but is rather based on understanding images and their formation. This has been the human quest since the beginning of time. And yet what characterizes the world today is a lack of consciousness. We lost the ability to connect ourselves to our surroundings because we consume the world mostly from a safe distance, through its image. This has led us to incessantly question what is real and what is not. One thing is for sure, human suffering is real, unlike the illusions I create. My illusions are only meant to act as imagined bridges, map-like structures that connect us to our past with an eye to the future."

Interview by Evrim Altug | Cumhuriyet | Download

Beatrice Benedetti | Maretti Editore

Steve’s trip, it could be said, was simply an expedition, with discoveries and restoration, the only difference being that the key value of the objects he found is not the rediscovery of a lost time, but rather the discovery of an original idea that is preserved for the days to come.

Archeology of the Future Exhibition Catalogue | Scavi Scaligeri | Verona

Sheyma Buali | Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia

In 38 Days, Sabella does not simply construct images but creates relics from his own imagination based on a very personal perception of place. These abstract souvenirs evoke notions of home and alienation and the friction between perceived and physical distance.

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Charlotte Bank | Institute for Middle East Understanding

One might see 38 days of re-collection as the completion of a circle. Jerusalem, the city of Steve Sabella’s birth and upbringing, the city he sought to re-think in the early project Identity, this over-inscribed piece of land that seems to have haunted the artist for so long, now appears in the light of Sabella’s new image-research.

Coming to terms with his uprootedness and “growing roots in the air” as he himself says, has enabled the artist to return to his native city with an approach that is at once disinterested, almost scientific in the dissection of its visual elements, and at the same time highly personal in its concern with the small objects of everyday use. Through his investigation of the visual palimpsest that is the history of Jerusalem and the ever increasing layers of images created and imagined about the city, Steve Sabella has succeeded in asking one essential question. Is the relationship between image and reality relevant?

Re-constructing Dasein: The Works of Steve Sabella. Read more

The Collection

House of Taswir | Kerber Verlag

FRAGMENTS FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL FUTURE | Bumiller Collection Museum | Berlin

„All existence is an imagination within an imagination... being a dream within a dream“ (Ibn Arabi)

Fragments From Our Beautiful Future. Contemporary Interventions in The Bumiller Collection #3presents the work of Jerusalem-born artist Steve Sabella (*1975) and Berlin artist Rebecca Raue (*1976) in a constellation with ancient chess pieces and Persian mirrors from the Bumiller Collection. With essays and poetic contributions by contemporary thinkers, art historians and curators, the publication creates a radical space of reflections on atomic time, cut-up and remix.

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Retrospective Exhibition


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Solo Exhibition | Berloni Gallery | London

Press Release


Solo Exhibition | Contemporary Art Platform | Kuwait


Première Biennale Des Photographes Du Monde Arabe Contemporain

Institue Du Monde Arab | Paris

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Short Film

In the Darkroom with Steve Sabella

"When you are in the darkroom, you don’t speak with anyone. The only thing you speak with is … art.”

click here to see the making of 38 Days of Re-Collection.
click here to see the base the image are printed on.


Fragments from our Beautiful Future at The Bumiller Collection | Berlin

Glass & Light Installation

All That Remains

Wood shard collected from Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on top of fragments with photographs taken in a Palestinian house occupied by Israel in 1948.

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