Tightrope, The First Major Traveling Museum Exhibition of Elias Sime

Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, and comprising of work from the last decade, is being presented by the Wellin Museum of Art through December 8, 2O19. (Photo credit: Brett Moen. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York)

Tadias Magazine

By Hasabie Kidanu

Monday, November 4th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – “My art is a reflection of who I am as a human being without borders, labels, and imposed identity. There is a sense of unity and cooperation that I reflect through my art. At the root of all of it is love and passion. With this exhibition, including many years of my work, I hope the students and other visitors will share my feelings expressed on the arts.” Elias Sime.

Artist Elias Sime’s first major traveling museum survey exhibition entitled “Tightrope”, and comprising of work from the last decade, is being presented by the Wellin Museum of Art.

The prolific and multi-disciplinary artist works primarily within the language of architecture, sculpture, and collage. Sime’s works are created from repurposing objects often carefully sourced from Merkato — Addis’ sprawling open air market. Sime often collects discarded electrical components that have travelled from around the globe to his hometown. Through a meticulous hand, the salvaged materials are cut, layered, collaged, woven. The end result renews refuse into a new form – large colorful and lyrical compositions, pointing to the universal human struggle as a ‘balancing act’ of our relationship to technological progress, waste, resourcefulness, and environmental sustainability.

As the director of the Wellin Museum and curator of the exhibition Tracy L. Adler notes, “Elias Sime is one of the most significant artists working today. He is both critical and embracing of the world we live in, and brings a truly global sensibility to his work without losing any of its authenticity and authorship. While technology has in many ways changed our lives for the better and facilitated international communication and partnership, it has resulted in detrimental byproducts both materially in terms of its refuse, and socially and culturally, in that we look more to our devices than to each other.”

The notion of revival is a pillar of Sime’s work in Addis as well. This year, the city celebrated the public opening of ZOMA, a 25-year in the making institution. This ever-evolving project houses exhibition spaces, vegetable gardens, animal quarters, library, children’s center, elementary school, and has become an oasis for locals. Along with ZOMA co-founder and curator Meskerem Assegued, Sime has been appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to design and build a public garden for the Menelik Palace, expanding the project of innovative architecture and art into a different part of the city. Elias Sime is also a recent recipient of the African Art Awards from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C.

On view from September 7 through December 8, 2019 at the Wellin Museum of Art, the exhibition will travel to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio (February 29 through May 24, 2020), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11 through September 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (December 12, 2020 through April 18, 2021).

About the Author:
Hasabie Kidanu received her MFA at Yale School of Art in 2017. Her film Mal-Fekata was most recently screened at the 48th Rotterdam International Film Festival as part of the Bright Future program. She has been a member of the Blackburn Printmaking Studio in New York since 2013. She was most recently a guest lecturer at Addis Ababa University. Since 2014, she is an Arts and Culture writer for TADIAS Magazine.

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