Protection … Entrapment!

Protection invite_wp

Asni gallery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 2007

How great it would be to have the ability to read another persons mind, and how catastrophic at the same time… Works of art are probably the closest one gets to opening the doors to ones psyche. What keeps me awake at night and drives me to make these strange objects that we call “art”, is the great irony of this world we live in and the stringent polarities we humans create out of something that is simply a united whole. Although at heart I am a painter, my convictions have lead me to use more immediate forms to express my ideas. Together with painting, text and photographic means have been a dominant aspect of my work. It is more crucial for me to convey an important message rather than be praised for the mere stylistic qualities of my work. The protagonists of this show are re-settlers, migrant workers and commercial sex workers from the north west of Ethiopia. These people have come here in search of a better life and instead they have been trapped in a merciless climate, exposed to insects infected with unthinkable killer diseases, exposed to dangers impossible to imagine. Still how brightly their eyes shine, and how resilient their spirits. The material I am using is a reflection of the idea of protection but at the same time entrapment for example the baby pouches or enquelba as they are called in Amharic, or the corrugated iron sheets, also protection mechanism that entrap. In my last exhibition in Islamabad Pakistan I worked almost obsessively with the art of henna tattoos incorporating the international symbols for the male and female. One can imagine my shock when upon coming to Ethiopia I beheld the beautiful faces of the Habesha with the tattooed foreheads displaying what look like female symbols and suns. I have incorporated these beautiful tattoos in this series of work as a manifestation of the divine in the midst of the desperate.