Aida combines drawing with photo
Raised in Canada, now living and working in Addis, Aida Muluneh is an artist of humane sensibilities, as her recent photographic work illustrates. With a background in film and photography, Aida has been focusing on photography for the past ten years and her images have appeared in numerous exhibitions in Cuba, Canada, England, Germany, Israel, Spain and Mali. A book of her work, called “Ethiopia: Past/Forward,” was published in September 2009 in Belgium.
Aida seems to be drawn to a sense of place and timelessness, known and familiar, self and other. Most of her images are black and white, which are inspired from her way of looking at the world in black and white. “Truth is either black or white. Human elements are exhibited though it. Black and white is the foundation. Color is tricky. But whatever I use, my focus is capturing light,” she says. Her shots depict the lives of regular folk: a girl on a horse, a woman at the doorway, women holding hands with their faces obscured, a pretty veiled girl looking at us with Bob Marley poster behind her. The photos capture the raw human emotions of mourning, anger, contentment and they come out as a touching story of girls and women becoming visible and discovering their self-acceptance. The photographer’s favorite image is of an old woman taken in Dessie town. The widow’s weathered skin and wrinkled face, her failing eyes become one with scenes of melancholy, but also tenderness. “I entered her humble home and the first thing that I noticed was the fact that she had an egg on her bed. I decided to shoot the bed and as I looked up I saw this amazing ray of light enter her darkened house through the doorway. I asked her if I could take a photo of her and hence, this was the image created,” Aida said. The woman appears tired, undefended but there’s no cruelty, no satire in the portrait, only tenderness.
But Aida’s experimental and best works are those artworks in which she tried to blend photography and hand drawing. The images in it invite the viewer to make her or his own narrative as inspired by the subjects. Aida states she has been exploring this possibility in the past two years and she has been progressively working on incorporating various elements and taking it one more step by adding paint in this exhibition. “I started out as a photo shoot with my dedicated friend and model Selam who endured long hours of sitting for me as we painted her body with whatever we could find. Initially we had the lofty idea that we can make our own body paint …based on some random receipt that we found online…that didn’t work so well but what we discovered is that we can do so much with flour…. We completed the shoot in a day, after which point I made the prints and glued it on leather,” Aida explained.
Both in print quality and sheer scope this exhibition deserves tribute. Eshetu Tiruneh, Art Director of Tomoca gallery and director of the Enlightenment Academy said “It has been exciting to witness the development of this body of Aida’s work. These works connect to the innermost human desire to create a personal narrative through images.”
The photos are on show at Galleria TO.MO.CA which is located in front of Canadian Embassy in Sar Bet and the exhibition will run until June 27, 2013.
(Photos taken from artist’s Facebook page)