Steve Sabella, born 1975 in Jerusalem, Palestine, is a Berlin-based artist who uses photography and photographic installation as his principal modes of expression.
Sabella’s 2014 solo exhibitions include Fragments at Berloni Gallery in London, Layers at Contemporary Art Platform (CAP), Kuwait, Archaeology of the Future at the International Center for Photography Scavi Scaligeri in collaboration with Boxart Gallery in Verona, and Independence at Meem Gallery in Dubai. Meanwhile the artist’s first monograph Steve Sabella Photography 1997-2014 has been published by Hatje Cantz in collaboration with the Akademie der Künste Berlin, with texts by Hubertus von Amelunxen and Kamal Boullata.
In 1997 he earned a three-year art photography degree at the Musrara School of Photography in Jerusalem. In 2007 he received a BA in Visual Studies at Empire State College of the State University of New York. Through a Chevening Scholarship he earned an MA in Photographic Studies in 2008 at the University of Westminster with a Caparo Award of Distinction, and through a Saïd Foundation Scholarship he earned his second MA in art business in 2009 at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Sabella was one of the winners of the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year Award in 2002. He was a shortlisted and exhibited artist in the 2008 Independent Photographers Terry O’Neil Award in the United Kingdom. He received the 2008 Ellen Auerbach Award from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, which included in part the publishing of Sabella’s 2014 monograph.
From the late 1990s through 2007 Sabella was based in Jerusalem and exhibited internationally as well as extensively throughout Palestine, including eleven solo shows. He was one of the commissioned artists for the Istanbul Collection donated to the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art in Sarajevo. In 2009 he was one of the commissioned artists for the inauguration of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, where he presented the installation Settlement Six Israelis & One Palestinian.
His work was included in the show Keep Your Eye on the Wall as a part of Les Rencontres d’Arles Photographie, Edition 2013, and in 2014 he participated in the FotoFest Biennial exhibition View from Inside. In 2014 he was commissioned by the Bahrain National Museum, where he presented his photographic series Sinopia as part of the touring exhibition Recreational Purpose.
His work is held in the collections of the British Museum, London; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Contemporary Art Platform, Kuwait; Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, Dubai; Salsali Private Museum, Dubai; Samawi Collection, Dubai; and in several private collections.
Sabella has given art talks and presentations at various institutions, including the University of Cambridge; Turin University; the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London; University of East London; Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino, Turin; Contemporary Art Platform, Kuwait; University of Rostock; Akademie der Künste, Berlin; British Museum; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
Among the several TV documentaries and short films on Sabella’s work are ‘Jerusalem in Exile’ and ‘Kan Yama Kan’, two episodes in the documentary project Beyond Blue & Gray by Eyes Infinite Films (2005 and 2006); Europe Through Their Eyes by Ma’an TV Productions (2010); Artist of the Month, aired on IkonoMENASA (2011); Artist of the Month featured on IkonoTV (2013); Arts InSight: Who is Steve Sabella? produced by Ernie Manouse (2014); and In the Darkroom with Steve Sabella by Nadia J. Kabalan (2014). He also appeared as an invited speaker at TEDx Marrakech (2012).
Sabella has published numerous essays, including several as a regular contributor to Contemporary Practices journal, such as “Palestinian Conceptual Art, Emily Jacir Shifting to an Art that Engages the Mind of the Viewer” (2009), “Is the United Arab Emirates Constructing its Art History? The Mechanisms that Confer Value to Art” (2009), “‘Valued’ in the ‘West’ Sold in the ‘East’” (2010), “Reconsidering the Value of Palestinian Art & Its Journey to the Art Market” (Part 1, 2010; Part 2, 2011), “The Business of Looking” (2011), “The Colonization of the Imagination” (2012) and “Archaeology of the Future” (2014).
Sabella’s essay “Hostage” (2014) was published by Phaidon in From Galilee to Negev by Stephen Shore, and his autobiography, titled The Artist’s Curse, is forthcoming.