Tightrope: It is Green 8, Elias Sime, 2023, electrical wires on panels.
Image © and courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery. Photo Phoebe d’Heurle.
Arnolfini opens its autumn season for 2023 with Eregata እርጋታ , the first major solo European museum exhibition of one of Ethiopia’s leading contemporary artists, Elias Sime, introducing audiences to a man and maker of extraordinary craftsmanship and collaborative spirit.
Recently the focus of a major touring exhibition in North America, and a prominent artist in the Venice Biennale 59th international exhibition, Sime’s approach to both life and art feels vital in the present moment.
Eregata እርጋታ will primarily focus on work from the past six years, including Sime’s monumental Venice Biennale commission Veiled Whispers (2022), alongside intricately woven abstract topographies from the landmark series Tightrope (2009 to present), key works from his early stitch, yarn and button series, and the tactile fragility of Bareness, a large-scale ceramic installation from 2014.
The exhibition’s title Eregata’s እርጋታ emerges from the artist’s language, Amharic, translated by Sime into as closest in meaning to the calmness and tranquility of the English word serene. Yet, for all its suggestions of calm to a western ear, for Sime eregata reflects a recognition that our minds are never truly still or silent: “we struggle to stop and sleep because our brains are constantly stimulated by technology – we are constantly moving faster not slower.”
Sime’s work flows against this tide, embracing a notion of ‘slowness’ – “My art is slowing it down. The work forces me to slow down.” – as he takes years to transform carefully sourced materials (from electrical wires to computer keyboards), filling them with new life, to explore both local and global issues around sustainability, materiality, and the impact of technology upon society.
Eregata እርጋታ also seeks to explore Sime’s relationship to his own environment, and the inspirational collaborative project Zoma Museum, in the artist’s home city of Addis Ababa, founded by Sime and long-time collaborator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued.
A programme of performance, talks and screenings will accompany Eregata እርጋታ, as well as workshops and family activities.
The exhibition will be complemented by a new publication Elias Sime: Eregata እርጋታ , featuring commissioned essays by curator Andria Hickey, Chief Curator The Shed, New York, and architect Nana Biamah-Ofosu, exploring Sime’s work and Zoma Museum (co-founded by Sime and Meskerem Assegued in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia). The book is available via the Arnolfini Bookshop.
Audio Descriptions of some of the works featured in Elias Sime: Eregata
Explore Elias Sime: Eregata with Arnolfini’s Gallery Guide by clicking on the link below.
About the Artist
Elias Sime (born 1968 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) has exhibited extensively around the world.More Work
20 October - 15 December 2023
21 December 2023 - 19 December 2024
07 November 2023