Tightrope: Continuous Rotation Servos (Primary Title)
In Amharic, the language spoken in Ethiopia, “tightrope,” literally means a rope that is stretched and stressed. In this beautifully executed painting, Elias Sime speaks to the urban transformation of his city, Addis Ababa, through the literal use of its junkyards of global debris. Home to one of the world’s largest repositories of computer refuse, Addis is at once mired in the binaries of local poverty versus global wealth, as well as the deep and rich past versus the changing cultural landscape of contemporary Africa.
In this work, Sime creates an abstract, contemporary landscape. Dense fields of colorful, undulating computer wires are transformed from ordinary cast-offs to malleable, tactile surfaces. The sheer dexterity of the artist’s hands, as well as his labor, encourages the viewer to not only consider the transformative power of his mind, but also his intent to speak to global issues that affect us all. The artist, however, resists a didactic approach to the problem of electronic pollution in Africa in favor of the poetry of repurposed material, which speaks to the resilience and creativity of a city and country in transition.
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