Recording Addis Ababa’s transformation

In the ever changing landscape of Addis Ababa, it is sometimes hard to remember what certain areas of the city looked like just a month ago. With that in mind and with the aim to make documentations of the changes the city is going through two artists ventured into a project of documenting the appearance of the city.

The project was later turned into a photograph exhibition that opened last Thursday showcased around 40 photographs taken in different parts of the city such as Piassa, Bole and other parts.

“We did this so that people will be able to remember what Addis Ababa looked like at this moment as well as to pay tribute to all the people that are helping building the city, the contractors and  daily laborers. We also wanted to ask  if it was possible to mix the old Addis Ababa with the new and in harmony,” said Nebila Abdulmelik, who is one of the artists that worked on the project.

The exhibition that was being shown at Dinq Art Gallery and that comes to an end today Sunday, May 21, 2017 is entitled “Urbamorphosis – the changing faces of Addis Ababa”

“This is quite a unique exhibition,” says Edom Belete Habtegebriel, art curator and manager of Dinq Art Gallery. “This is the first time that photographers – one of them non-Ethiopian, not only have shown  a keen interest in Addis Ababa’s urban development but also decided to capture and exhibit it as a legacy for present and future generations. This should be supported and encouraged.”

The exhibition takes visitors on a journey stretching from the first echoing of jackhammers and drills to today’s modern-looking city boasting high rises and a new light rail. It pays tribute to Addis Ababa and its inhabitants who are negotiating the change all around them. It recognizes the people behind the construction who are quite literally remaking the city

“This project burgeoned in my mind on my second trip to Ethiopia in October 2013, following a first visit in 2011,” says John Kaninda from DRC the other photographer that is part of the project. “In this maelstrom of sweeping changes, I became afraid that the ongoing evolution might obliterate the collective memory we have of the old Addis, leaving it flimsy and wobbly. So, I decided to document the changes while at the same time capturing the charm of the old, iconic Addis Ababa.” The artists hope that this project will be useful documentation for the future generation.