ETHIOPIA: PAST/FORWARD AIDA MULUNEH BOOK
It has been a long journey but finally my first book ETHIOPIA: PAST/FORWARD is being published by Africalia and the launch will be held in the Cultural Center ZUIDERPERSHUIS in Antwerpen/Anvers, Belgium. September 16, 2009. I hope to see some of you at the event.
In addition, for a limited time you can purchase prints and products of selected images that appear in the book at http://pa.photoshelter.com/user/aidamuluneh. The print sizes available are 8 x 12 and 11 x 14. The book is on sale in the USA for $50. Your purchase would go towards helping us continue our DFA Photography Workshop program (www.destaforafrica.org) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support.
About the book:
First, this book is dedicated to my mentor and inspiration Harlee Little Jr. I met Harlee in 1995, he was one of the key people who pushed me to continue shooting. He used to tell me “you have to shoot at least one image a day” and to never give up pursing my dreams. I spent almost three years assisting him and even after college he would find a way for us to work together. Over the years, he saw me grow up both personally and creatively. It is rare to find solid people who are willing to help you so that you can see your own dreams come true. No matter what part of the world I was in, I knew that I could call him and ask him for advice. Even thought he is not physically here, his legacy lives on with me and the work that I have created.
Ethiopia:Past/Forward is a collection of images that I captured through my personal accounts in my first year in Ethiopia. Many of the images are from a month-long road tour throughout the various historical regions in the north. My main focus has always been to present other realities of a country that exists in a multitude of complexities. Ethiopia is a visually rich country. However, I have never been a fan of capturing the “exotic” or anthropologic parts of the country. I find it more interesting to photograph the day-to-day aspects of daily life in the city or the rural parts. For example, many photographers who come to Ethiopia rarely spend time documenting city life and culture. The image branding of Ethiopia has still been stuck on the famines and political unrest. I can not deny realties but I do believe in a balanced portrayal.
One of the most interesting series that I have been working on is the collection “Islam in Ethiopia”. Many people told me that it would be a challenge but for whatever reason, I was fortunate enough to explore the interesting history of Islam in the country. I have never believed in self-limitations based on gender. I thought that at first it would be a problem because one, I am a woman and second, my religious background is Christian Orthodox. But the level of respect and cooperation that I received was amazing. With the ethnic and religious divisions that plague Africa, I hope that my images would be a testament to our similarities rather than emphasizing our differences.
I must say that each image in the book is an expression of my thoughts, hopes and questions of a country that I only knew through nostalgic fantasies. In the span of my two years in Ethiopia, I have seen and experienced many things that made me question my own identity. I have also seen the full spectrum of misery and joy, just as I have seen the magic of Ethiopia. The most amazing thing to me in Ethiopia is the slow descent of the sun in the late afternoon. The color of the light makes everything seem like a movie. I have yet to see light as crisp and clear as in Ethiopia. And I am a slave to the light.