Photographer Aïda Muluneh debuts new work in solo exhibition at Efie Gallery in Dubai

Efie Gallery, the Dubai-based contemporary art gallery specialising in artists of African origin, announces its representation of the pioneering Ethiopian photographer Aïda Muluneh with an exhibition (12 January – 24 February 2023) of acclaimed works from various series that exemplify the artist’s approach to art as a tool for change, including commissions for the Nobel Peace Prize. Titled The Art of Advocacy, this solo show includes a new work displayed for the first time, in which the artist explores a new process of hand-painting acrylic onto photographs. A remarkable force in the photography world, Muluneh is known for her powerful portraits of women in surreal settings, featuring face-painting traditions, masks, striking garments and distinctively bold colours. Advocacy is integral to the artist’s work, which touches on urgent themes of human rights, environment, conflict and health. She explores African female identity within the colonial experience, interrogating the foreign gaze on African women, and advocates for the development of photography in Africa and its impact in shaping cultural perceptions. 
Star Shine Moon Glow (2018)
On display at Efie Gallery’s exhibition are works from the series Water Life (2018), through which Muluneh addresses the plight of water access in rural regions and its impact on women’s liberation, health, sanitation and education. For this commission by WaterAid, the artist drew from her experience in regions where the burden of transporting water to the household falls on women travelling on foot. Set in the arid salt flats of Dallol, northern Ethiopia, the works advocate for the urgency of supporting access to clean water in rural regions of Africa. Also exhibited are pieces from The Road of Glory (2020), a series commissioned for the Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition that examines how food and hunger are used as weapons in war and how societies’ advancements throughout history have been marked by systematic destruction and suffering. Each of these provocative and intensely colourful works focuses on a different country during a time of conflict and mass suffering, including Yemen, Vietnam and Syria, portraying the plight of those caught between the crossfires of political agendas.  Photographs created as part of The Crimson Echo (2021), a series commissioned by The END Fund, highlight the impact of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) on gender equity, mental health, mobility and access to resources. The works feature motifs of insects and abstracted body parts, while elements of Ethiopian body ornamentation are used to honour traditional knowledge systems, beliefs and communities across Africa, dismantling bleak renderings of the continent and provoking viewers to question whom these diseases affect and why.
The 99 Series Part Three (2013) 
Born in Addis Ababa, Muluneh has lived in Yemen, Cyprus, Greece, UK and Canada and is currently based in Ivory Coast. Her works have been collected by major international institutions including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Alongside her work as a juror, curator and educator, she is also founder of Addis Foto Fest and develops other initiatives that promote artistic talent in Africa and the global south to the global market through partnerships with international institutions.  Since its inception in 2021 and the opening of its permanent space in 2022, Efie Gallery has been establishing itself as a global platform working with some of Africa’s most significant artists, including El Anatsui. Dedicated to the representation and advancement of both established and emerging artists from Africa and the diaspora, Efie Gallery supports the cross-cultural exchange of artists’ work across the Middle East and beyond. In addition to its roster of wide-ranging artists and exhibitions, Efie Gallery operates a dynamic residency programme that focuses on artist promotion, protection and preservation.
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