Aida Muluneh’s photography shows Ethiopia’s brighter side
Born in 1974, Aida Muluneh is an Ethiopian photographer and a contemporary artist. She spent much of her childhood between Yemen, Cyprus and England, before joining Canada and the United States for her studies.
Upon graduating from Howard University in Washington in 2000, she has been a photojournalist notably for the Washington Post. In 2004, her artwork entered the permanent collection of the prestigious Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of African Art.
In 2007, she won the European Union Prize at the Bamako photography meetings.
A committed woman
Aida Muluneh returned to Ethiopia, after 28 years of absence, and founded the festival Addis Foto Fest, a first in East Africa. The idea is to bring together African-American photographers and Africans, and to encourage Ethiopian photographers to re-appropriate the story of their country.
The Addis Foto Fest was born from this desire to bring black American and African photographers together, and to encourage Ethiopian photographers to appropriate the story of their country.
She also founded Desta (Developing and educating society through art) which means happiness in Amharic, her mother tongue, to pursue what her mother and Canada gave her most: education and tools for life.
She advocates that the photography and the? the art sector in general be a priority axis of development.
Permissions for everything
But in Ethiopia, Aida Muluneh comes up against the lack of photographic culture. Especially since, in an autocratic and bureaucratic country, photographers are often treated with hostility. “The photo is viewed with suspicion,” she explains.
When her students go to Mercato, Africa’s largest open-air market, young photographers are harassed by traders or by the police. “You need permissions for everything. And the ones given by the Ministry of Communication are not recognized by the police. It does not make sense.”
One of his most popular works, the series of above-ground portraits “Painted Faces”, features young African women, faces painted in bright blue, white or red. The models become artistic subjects, rather than being reduced to their “Africanness”.
“A big part of my job is to erase time and space. I look at universality. I want to think of the continent in a different way,” she explains.
The bright colors come from its cultural heritage and they aim to illustrate the intensity of her emotions.
Aida Muluneh made a series of 12 photos for the NGO Water Aid, alerting to the lack of access to drinking water in the world. In this dreamlike setting, she brings modernity to each photo. She immediately made her mark to tell a story in twelve tables: that of access to water today in certain parts of the planet, and how this question rests, at least on the African continent, on the shoulders of women.
Her photos were taken in the hottest city in the world, Dallo (Ethiopia).