In Conversation with Steve Sabella

Steve Sabella is an award-winning Berlin based artist. In this interview he will tell us more about his Everland series, which is made by nine photo collages of Palestinian embroidery decorations sewn and woven on a wide variety of traditional costumes.

One of the photographs of this series, Everland II edition 4/6 will be on sale during SINGULART’S Photography Auction taking place from the June 17th to June 23rd. Take the chance to learn more about his project in this article and visit our auction page!

Steve, why did you create the Everland series? How was the project born?

Just before the Coronavirus engulfed our reality, I was one out of forty people from all over the world chosen to be part of a co-action creative group to counter extremism through arts and culture. Our first encounter was in Venice on that weekend when it drowned, was in a state of emergency. And that’s how we all felt about the state of the world, weeks before the virus invasion. On wide whiteboards, we started drawing a new image of the world as we imagined it. Our second encounter was in Brussels, and our mission was to transform this imagination into reality before we headed to Washington, D.C., to decide on the action. None of us argued, agreed, or disputed. All of our conversations started with an “and, where everyone contributed, adding to the bigger picture, which we all solve together. The “I was silenced, replaced by what “we” can do to create a world based on global awareness.

The shared stories, visions, and honest words transformed many of us. I had one hour to spare before my trip to the clouds, finding myself strolling aimlessly around the streets of Brussels. But the universe has no wrong answers. The sun was shining in the blue sky, warming the cold street corridors. I looked at the sun with my eyes closed, accepting its rays and whatever they carried with them. And then I felt a new state of freedom, that as long as there is one person left who imagines a better world, life has a chance. And there is more than one person. There are many, all waiting for their ideas and dreams to be weaved together by cosmic light. The seeds are all out there looking for the right ground to flourish. And they can with the blink of an eye. Until then, the ground we are all looking for is wherever we are, and the seeds are right there in us.

How did you transform this vision or feeling into art?

I was in a state of bliss. And the moment my canvas found me in the light-room, I transformed that state of bliss into Everland. Everland is the land of Palestine, with roots stretching everywhere. And like never before, Palestine has fallen off the map of the world—sidelined, lost its center until recently it resurrected again. Everland is a photo collage of Palestinian embroidery, a tradition passed from generation to generation by women who sew patterns and motifs to reveal their heritage, ancestry, and place of origin. Palestinian embroidery is proof of presence that no power can uproot from the people’s imagination, a celebration of collective identity and narrative that gets renewed, awakened every time we see or touch its beauty.

But given Palestine’s history, the beauty pierces the heart. I remember my mother and sisters engaging with it when I was a child living in Jerusalem’s Old City. The process was one of meditation where one spends endless hours traveling from one tiny square to another, feeling invited to explore the self and its truths. Given the richness of colors and shapes, one inevitably enters a state of trance. And as you can Everland is like a cosmic psychedelic dance.

What message or which emotions would you like to convey through this project?

Everland celebrates all the beauty that comes out of Palestine, a place where everything gets disrupted. Yet, the collage enables the cross stitches to penetrate deep into new borders, creating unique designs, connections that look as if they represent every other culture revealing the spirit of the world. We are all from everywhere and nowhere. Poetically, we are all from elsewhere. And that nowhere is the everland we are all searching for. Getting there is an extraordinary journey of endless discovery.

Could you elaborate on the technique you used to create Everland?

Everland is not stitched with cotton, wool, or silk, but with digital threads weaved on a new fabric of life, on the fabric of light. And if the light falling on the earth is always new, how can we stay the same? We are creatures of light. And the light shines in all the colors of the world, creating the threads of our life. And it is up to us how we weave them together.

Every time Everland will be on display, its nine squares will be put in a different constellation, including their orientation to any side. This way, Everland will always have endless possibilities, creating a new visual, forever changing.

What advice would you give to emerging photographers?

Keep looking, keep searching. The extraordinary details you are searching for are always right there in front of you.