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Who Am I? Noted photographer asks difficult questions — and that's a good thing

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Steve Sabella, Metemorphosis, 2012
Steve Sabella, Metamorphosis, 2012, lambda print with Diasec face mounting on aluminium dibond, printed in 2014, 70 ¾ by 70 ¾ inches. Courtesy of FotoFest

Editor's note: From time to time, CultureMap will highlight remarkable works on view as part of the FotoFest Biennial 2014 "View From Inside: Contemporary Arab Photography, Video and Mixed Media Art," which continues through April 27.

Artist: Steve Sabella.

Title: Metamorphosis.

The Fine Print: Lambda print with Diasec face mounting on aluminum dibond, printed in 2014, 70 ¾ by 70 ¾ inches. Unique edition for FotoFest, signed in pen on back.

The Lowdown: Jerusalem-born, Berlin-based Steve Sabella's exploration of personal cultural provenance suffuses his work with relatable meaning. Although Metamorphosis may, on first look, emerge as a tiled collage composition that resembles the aesthetic of Cubism — from far away it may even recall a microcosm of Paul Cézanne's technique in the 1885 painting Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from Bellevue — there's deeper significance in the process that's set in motion by the repetitive layering of different perspectives of the same image.

As Sabella's constructivist approach disintegrates the original milieu so does the journey into the discovery of the self. The window, often a symbol that serves as a portal to another sometimes unattainable world, is used as a unit that is examined ad nauseam to render something completely new and different. Through this play on perception, Sabella comments on the painful exercise of examining who we are as individuals — over and over again — to extrapolate a better understanding of our place in society.

Sabella's work says to us: Although personal change is inevitable, we always retain kernels of our past — for perpetuity. And that's a good thing.

Auction Price: $20,000.

Location: Spring Street Studios.

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