ZAM Reporter

Until 29 May, 2021, Utrecht | Living Remote with Michael Tsegaye

Image: Michael Tsegaye | North Road | # 10, 2007, Colour print on aluminum

'As an Ethiopian I do not have a duty to focus my lens on suffering alone', the Ethiopian photographer says.

Tsegaye graduated in painting from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design in 2002, but gave up painting when he developed an allergy to oil paint. He then found his real passion in photography and has turned this into a profession, and moreover into a way of expressing a very particular voice.

'As a photographer I try as much as possible to escape being pigeonholed. This is especially relevant as an African – and Ethiopian – photographer. I place myself among my peers (photographers and painters) across the world. As an Ethiopian I do not have a duty to focus my lens on suffering alone. My life, and that of other African artists, is not predicated on poverty and hardships, although they are common sights. Rather I seek to understand my life and standpoint in the 21st century and express these through art.

As an Ethiopian I approach art free from constraints. Ethiopia has maintained her culture, language and traditions for centuries in a world that has been continually changing and subject to the (sometimes positive, sometimes negative) involvement of other countries, cultures and ideologies. Perhaps this lack of contact to the outside world has contributed to Ethiopia’s underdevelopment, but it has also ensured that Ethiopia’s ‘voice’ has never been corrupted'.

In the pictures of Ankober Michael reaches a quiet harmony reflected in the portraits and landscapes of Ankober. He achieves an evocative balance of lights, showing daily scenes in a mystical yet melancholic way.

Living Remote is a group exhibition at Gallery SANAA. See more here.