The New York Times Review of Elias Sime’s Exhibit at James Cohan Gallery

Elias Sime’s “Tightrope 7,” a collage of reclaimed electronic components adorned with items such as buttons and batteries. (Credit Elias Sime and Adam Reich/James Cohan, New York / Shanghai)

The New York Times


Elias Sime Recycles Discarded Objects Into Abstract Works

Elias Sime, who is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, makes complex monumental art from tiny parts. His New York solo debut at James Cohan begins, in a side gallery, with things fairly conventional in format: paintinglike abstract pieces, stitched from yarn, of biomorphic forms in grays and browns. Work in the main gallery is, by contrast, larger, but incrementally composed, pieced together from individual blocks of dense patterning made with unusual material: braided and brightly colored electrical wiring, of a kind found in computers.

Mr. Sime (pronounced SEE-may) buys this and other electronic detritus — most of it shipped in bulk to Africa from elsewhere — in recycling markets in Addis Ababa. His use of it becomes spectacularly inventive in an enormous piece in the back gallery called “Tightrope 7.” Mr. Sime has said that the title refers to the precarious balance a city must maintain to survive and thrive, and “Tightrope 7” might be read as a bird’s-eye view of Addis Ababa, now in the midst of a disorienting transformation.

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Elias Sime to Exhibit Latest Work at James Cohan Gallery in New York

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