All images © Aida Muluneh
* Featured in African Portraits, 6 October - 19th November 2016
*Online preview here
Aïda Muluneh (b. 1974) is an Ethiopian artist based in Addis Ababa. In 2000 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in film, radio and television from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Muluneh is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africanines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, as well as the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy. Her work can be found in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the Hood Museum and the Museum of Biblical Art, as well as the Sindika Dokolo Foundation in Berlin. Muluneh is the founder and director of the Addis Foto Fest, the first international photography festival in Ethiopia, as well as Fana Wogi a yearly open call supporting contemporary artists. Aida continues to curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art) in Addis Ababa.
Aida has just been named by Forbes as one of the 100 most influential women in Africa.
"Inferno is made of history, not only of a country but of self, of exile, of bloodshed, of loss of mourning, of bitterness, of broken hearts and broken wings. The inferno is not down below; it is here, ever-present, next to us, in our memories and in our minds. It is made of delusions, of prostration, of hiding behind masks to validate our existence and our hidden agenda’s; it’s a mask we wear to fool ourselves and others in an attempt to get ahead, yet we are void in our survival. We live in the gray existence, uncomfortable like the dirty snow of western winters or like the polluted skyline of what we call Ethiopian Modernity.
Pulled between the past, the present and the future, we wrap ourselves with forgotten heritage and dream of looking towards the future, but we are stuck looking into the past. For eternity we are toiling with rituals and ceremony, yet our past deeds are markerd by unhealing wounds, the blood of false victory stitched by the threads of nostalgia. A story we each carry, of loss, of oppressors, of victims, of disconnection, of belonging, of longing you see paradise in the dark abyss of eternity. "
The World Is 9
|" Living in Addis Ababa for the past nine years has been a lesson; a lesson in humility, and a lesson in what it means to return to a land that was foreign to me. Over the past nine years, an expression of my grandmother has stuck in my mind – she would say, “The world is 9, it is never complete and it’s never perfect.” I thought it was interesting, but it wasn’t until much later as an adult that her voice echoed in my thoughts of whether we can live in this world with full contentment.
In this world, we are idealists seeking perfection but living in a reality which does not afford us that balance. Life is unpredictable and imperfect – we must conquer these challenges with strength and endurance because the world within us and the world knocking on our door, bears the unknown future. Regardless, through these experiences, I was inspired to create 28 new pieces of work. Each image is an exploration of questions about life, love, and history. I am not seeking answers but asking provocative questions about the life that we live – as people, as nations, as beings. I have chosen to continue working on body painting, which is inspired by traditional body art from across Africa. Each work is a reflection of conscious and sub-conscious manifestations of time and space."
The Wolf You Feed
|" The Wolf You Feed collection is a reflection on the personal and outer battles that people face. The battle between good and evil, between the path we choose and the one that is chosen for us. In our busy day of living this life, we often forget that the most basic elements of our lives are based on the choices that we make and how these choices have an impact on our families, communities and society.
Many of the themes in this body of work relate to human nature and interaction. The problems of this world are a manifestation of the deterioration of our societies and the obsession of our own mortality. Some of us believe in God, some of us believe in spirituality, some in money and others in fame and so forth. Does anyone dream of a better world or have we grown comfortable in accepting the nightmare as a reality? We have become like by standards of an accident, watching with passivity for our own self-satisfaction, yet in the distance the world burns. Which is the wolf you are feeding?"
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