Admas Habteslasie: Limbo

March 16 – June 12, 2009
Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery
Reception: Thurs April 9, 5:30-8pm

Collect Limbo exhibition catalog, Contact Sheet 151

Reception includes a Spoken-Word Poetry Performance by Verbal Blend, including performances by Jason Adams, Christopher Alexander, Cedric Bolton, Celena Corley, Ousman Diallo, Josh Frackleton, Tandameshia Hastings, Aaron Hudson, Christopher Lee, Kar-Lai Leung, Ashley Marshall, Chiderah Monde, Tiffany Viruet, and Seneca Wilson

Limbo depicts a graceful yet unusually honest and insightful snapshot of Eritrea, an East African country suspended in an unsettled state between war and peace.

Eritrea warred with neighboring Ethiopia for 30 years before gaining independence in 1991. Then, in 1998, they entered another war with Ethiopia that lasted two years. Today, the war-torn country is yet again at the brink of war with their neighbor. Years of unrest have left the people of Eritrea waiting for life to improve. According to Habteslasie: “Transitory states become permanent; empty villas, destroyed old buildings and unfinished new buildings dot the landscape, monuments to the suspension of history. The collision between Eritrea’s proud historical narrative and the bleak ennui of the present has produced an obsessive focus on the future. Reconstruction and infrastructure development are energetically driven forward whilst the economy remains essentially shut off from the outside world.” The images in Limbo capture both destruction and construction, both the unhealed wounds of war and a fierce optimism and hope for a brighter future.

Mary Goodwin
Associate Director, Light Work

Habteslasie was born in Kuwait, and his parents are Eritrean. He received his master’s degree from the London College of Communication in photojournalism and documentary photography. His photographic projects look at the ideas of identity, history, and the re-evaluation of our relationship with historical process. His work has been exhibited at venues such as Flowers East and 198 Gallery in London. His work has also been published in Source Magazine.

Habteslasie participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in June 2008 through a collaboration with London-based organization Autograph ABP. Each year, Light Work welcomes one artist-in-residence selected through Autograph ABP, which works internationally to educate the public about photography, with a particular emphasis on issues of cultural identity and human rights. Habteslasie was the tenth artist to participate in the Artist-in-Residence program through the collaboration.