December 12th, 2016
5 Highlights from the 2016 Addis Foto Fest
Bringing together emerging and leading photographers from around the world, the Addis Foto Fest is a platform for the exchange of images and ideas from Africa and the global photography community. In advance of the fourth edition, taking place from December 15–20 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Aperture spoke with five participating photographers to learn more about their work.
“I have often chosen to put myself center stage in order to question a female identity as it is lived and challenged in North Africa. I believe our image has often been shaped by the outside, by the fantasies and projections of the West, and from within by our roots, traditions, and way of life. As shown in Hidden Portraits, this work gives itself to be seen through layers that are all inscribed in our body’s memory.” —Héla Ammar
“In this body of work called Nigerian Identity, I explore what it means to be Nigerian, removing much of the usual context of ‘Nigerian-ness,’ and focusing on the individual. The skin is also very important here: I’ve processed all the images to have virtually the same skin tone: a practice which is meant to celebrate black skin, but also call into question that tendency to view people only as their skin color. I’m drawn to the skin because it is beautiful and produces these textures. But thematically I’m drawn to the skin because we live in world where the color of your skin influences your experiences.” —Ima Mfon
“My street photography work focuses mainly on the contrast between light and shadow. I am driven to create images where the symphony of colors, people, shadows, and lines work together to show a semblance of order in highly congested and at times chaotic city environments.” —Messay Shoakena
“Signs of Your Identity explores the legacy of Canada’s forced assimilation boarding schools for Indigenous children. Students were punished for speaking their own languages or practicing native traditions, as well as routinely physically and sexually assaulted. The last school didn’t close until 1996. Signs of Your Identity is a series of multiple-exposure photographs of some of the 80,000 living survivors of residential schools. Each one overlays a portrait with an image related to that individual’s memories of their residential school experience. For me, the multiple exposures became the best and most honest way to represent this story and touch on the effects of historical trauma, cultural genocide, and the things we pass from parent to child. I know it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to effect major policy change when it comes to Indigenous education, but I hope that I can ensure that students will learn a more complete version of our own history.” —Daniella Zalcman
“This photograph is from the series Jua Kali, inspired by the informal sector that breathes character into Nairobi’s economy. Each portrait describes a personality that has created a surreal self-image to fit in Nairobi’s Jua Kali world. The images are created to look as if one adorned oneself with found objects, which somehow work together to make them superhuman. ‘Jua Kal’ is Swahili for ‘Fierce Sun.’ Now it is a term used for people who work in any informal way and to describe work that is substandard. But I want to change this perception. In reality it is the Jua Kali sector that fuels the city of Nairobi.” —Tahir Karmali
Founded in 2010 by the photographer Aida Muluneh, the Addis Foto Fest is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting. The 4th edition of Addis Foto Fest is presented from December 15–20, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.