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Elias Sime portrait

Portrait of the artist. Photo by Alice Hendy.

Addressing the impact of globalization and technology on the human psyche, Elias Sime: Dichotomy ፊት አና ጀርባ jerba debuts this April with 11 new artworks by the Addis Ababa-based artist, including nine new wall works, a stone sculpture, and a site-specific installation. On view April 17 – November 24, 2024 at Spazio Tana, Castello, the exhibition is an official Collateral Event of the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Using materials that form the backbone of all digital communication, Sime crafts dimensional meditations that encourage sustained contemplation. Co-curated by the artist’s longtime collaborator Meskerem Assegued and Felicity Korn, curator at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Dichotomy ፊት አና ጀርባ jerba illuminates the tenuousness in humanity’s private and public dualities. Selected works will later be included in a comprehensive retrospective of Elias Sime’s at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, the exhibition’s organizing institution, from March to June 2025.

In his material-driven and multidisciplinary practice, Sime weaves, layers, and braids repurposed technological equipment into lyrical and intricate sculptural assemblages. Sime’s use of color, pattern, and grids often reference natural landscapes, evoking both the environment and humankind’s imprint on the earth. This presentation elaborates on Sime’s Tightrope series, which the artist first began developing in 2009. In particular, the new Tightrope works meditate on the centrality of the smartphone in everyday life. Sime looks at this device as a status symbol, as well as a metaphor for the fraught systems powering global communication today; the ubiquitous devices are powered by precious metals which are mined under punishing conditions, raising serious ethical and ecological concerns due to their geological scarcity and associated geopolitics. In the entryway from the canal to the interior exhibition space in Venice, a site-specific installation will place panels of electronic components and electrical wires in direct dialogue with the ancient infrastructure of the city.

Working with Assegued, Sime co-founded, designed, and built the award-winning Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa, an environmentally conscious international art center. Zoma Museum includes a gallery space, library, children’s center, edible garden, elementary school, art and vernacular school, amphitheater, cafe, and museum shop. As an extension of this architectural practice, Sime has recently begun to develop a series of freestanding carved stone sculptures whose sinuous forms echo the vernacular architecture of the museum. Dichotomy ፊት አና ጀርባ jerba will feature the latest work from this ongoing series.

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