Individuals, without really knowing each other, are all linked by the experience of a past, present or future situation. This experience varies from case to case, but the one we’ll be talking about here is the feeling that arises after the death of someone close to us or someone we know. Although it’s not often considered, bereavement is an event in life that brings many people together because of a shared sense of vulnerability and loss. Contemporary artist Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew takes this analysis a step further with “Wulo“, an exhibition focusing on the practices and concepts of mourning at various levels.
On show until 17 November 2023 at the Museum of Modern Art-GKDC in Addis Ababa, this artistic presentation unveils a collection of previously unseen works by the Ethiopian artist. The works on show represent the progress made in his research into the theme of mourning as an expressive language at different levels of study, notably aesthetic, political and pedagogical.
The ‘Wulo’ exhibition is made up of a wide selection of works in a variety of media, presented in equally disparate ways. The art space will therefore be occupied by a wide variety of contemporary works, including interactive art with bodily experiences, installations, woodcuts, videos, sounds and multimedia pieces.
A workshop will also be organised in conjunction with the exhibition to provide an ideal common space for collective discussions and practices centred on the loss of a loved one. The workshop will be renamed ‘Wulo‘ to reflect the title of the exhibition.
This title was inspired by a tradition of mourning that favours coming together to collectively address inhibited or delayed grief. With this in mind, the interactive exchange space aims to bring together the emotions and the gaze of the public, turning them into a collective mass guiding us towards a more meaningful understanding of our shared socio-political conditions.
In one way or another, every individual has been affected by the unstable socio-political conditions of the past or present. This reality makes all of us potential candidates, leading us to conceive of a rapprochement with others due to feelings of loss and vulnerability. Despite the many facets of this pluralism, communities and individuals are all linked by a painful experience such as bereavement, a trait that fosters a connection that goes beyond the “We“.
In his exhibition ‘Wulo‘, Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew questions this deep-seated ‘We‘, whose feelings are primarily based on the sadness associated with bereavement. It’s a bond that the contemporary artist recognises as fragile, and one that requires collective responsibility and responsiveness in order to endure the funereal atmosphere and the pain of this feeling of abandonment.
Through his exhibition ‘Wulo‘, Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew invites the public to share the burden of bereavement, and to heal the wounds of the gaping hole left by the disappearance of a loved one. Like a funeral procession, the works on display help the public to overcome this state of being by relying on the solidarity of those familiar with this trying situation.