Having spent half of my life in North America as an African immigrant, it took me a long time to understand how I identify with Africa and its cultural impact on my photographic work. Upon my return to Ethiopia in 2007, it became apparent that dwelling between Western and African ideologies characterized my creative endeavors. A great deal of my images are a reflection on this duality, one that led me to ask, “What is the image of Africa and the Diaspora?” The more I saw and experienced of my homeland, the more it became evident to me the lack of discussion on the production, promotion and professional exchange between photographers in African and their peers abroad.
The most compelling fact to me was that photographers both in Africa and in the Diaspora have been creating images of societies, juxtaposed between modernity, tradition, reality and the hope for change. While attempting, as individuals, to explore and present their communities with a balanced perspective, photographers in Africa have limited opportunities for tangible relationship of resource exchange, of collaboration and of critical dialogue on image production. From then on, I felt the need to generate opportunities that can facilitate this exchange while bridging the gap between photography communities inside Africa and abroad.
My personal journey in and through imagery was made possible because of the support I have received from photographers from around the globe. This fact made me recognize the common need for artistic growth through dialogue, networking and creative exchange – while keeping in mind that the process is mutual to everyone devoted to a world made up of open and expressive society.
ADDIS FOTO FEST 2010
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia