The secret was heard from the flight attendants

Work by Elias Sime, a multidisciplinary artist known for his relief sculptures — and another Ale alumnus — has already found a global audience. Last year he was one of two artists to win the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Award, and this year he has been shortlisted for the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize. Back in 2002, he co-founded the Zoma Contemporary Art Center (ZCAC) in Addis, with curator Meskerem Assegued, and last year the duo opened the Zoma Museum, a privately-run museum and arts space. They also recently completed sculptures for the Unity Park sculpture garden within the National Palace compound in Addis Ababa, on invitation from Prime Minister Ahmed.
“Artists do not have the intention to leave the country as much as they used to because they can do well by being positioned here,” said Assegued. “The last few years, artists have been motivated to experiment with different work and they have been mobilizing, which is very good news.”
Yinka Shonibare’s colorful artworks subvert colonial narratives
Recent examples include the communal space Mount Entoto Studio, atop a mountain overlooking the capital city, which was set up by artists Henok Melkamzer Yihun and Eyob Kitaba, and the artistic collective Gize, which was recently launched by a group of artists and educators, including multimedia artist Robel Temesgen. “Gize has been established to be an alternative space in the city,” he wrote in an email. “We are currently planning and developing projects for later this year.”
In addition to creating these non-commercial or non-government run spaces, a new generation of artists is also going beyond painting, once the country’s mainstay medium, to experiment with photography, video, installation and performance art. Video artist Ezra Wube established the Addis Video Art Festival in 2015, and since 2010, celebrated photographer Aida Muluneh has spearheaded Addis Foto Fest, which showcases the work of Ethiopian photographers alongside that of photographers from around the globe.

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