Born in 1982, Naod Lemma grew up in Merkato, the famous open air market neighborhood in Addis Abeba. In 2009, after graduating from Addis Ababa University with a degree in Theatre Arts he began to explore different mediums, such as experimental filmmaking and performance art.
Naod’s multimedia arts explore different kinds of everyday people in Ethiopia and their environmental and social life. In 2010, Naod began work on an ongoing project that focuses on portraits of people and their condition as “strangers” within their ordinary existence in their daily life. His stated role is to ‘give recognition to their existence through my art works’.
Men In the Mirror
Since my childhood I have always wondered about how mirrors work. This body of work explores the illusion of mirrors and photography’s ability to replicate this phenomenon. Mirrors reflect reality but they also distort it. For example, if you wave your right hand in front of the glass it will appear exactly as it is, but as your left hand and not your right. This simultaneous re-creation and distortion of reality also manifests itself in photography. You can take a picture and capture something real. Yet the way you frame the image, what you cut out, what you choose to include or pose, even the particular angle from which you shoot has equal power to distort reality.
I chose to shoot this project in a barber shop. I explore photography’s creative and manipulative power by using it to portray the social dynamics that exist in this environment. When you go to the barber shop, there is a certain power hierarchy. The barber makes suggestions and decisions not only about your appearance but often times conversation naturally digresses into everyday life problems. He may tell his client what to do with his hair but also what to do about his girlfriend. This is an unofficial yet significant part of the barber shop experience captured in this series. The person getting their hair cut is vulnerable and usually submits to what the barber thinks is best for his hair and his life.