Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew

Care and Become

“What we (societies in the Global South) have in common is that we all have to fight against many obstacles in order to live with dignity—that is to say, to live well.”
Boaventura de Sousa Santos Santos, (2014)
Our political life has constantly been furnishing exposures to violence and vulnerability and such oppressed societies have multiple reasons to grief. In places where difference has politically been the center of societal relationships, a certain form of grief might also be a confined experience among specific communities. In such precarious moments, communities must have a right and, most importantly, a responsibility to openly lament victimizations.
My project ‘Care and Become’ recognizes the power of care and mourning to bring people together, despite and because of differences, and to form political communities in a complex order. The project starts from careful Listening and active Witnessing the violent urban past of Addis Ababa city and how it is haunting contemporary relationships among the society. It further proposes a possibility of translating the notion and practices of care and mourning into an aesthetic, pedagogical and political elements to facilitate struggles.
As an ongoing effect of ghosts from the violent urban past of Addis Ababa, a culture of fear and violence is actively cultivated within and beyond the center. In this ongoing conflict, the responses of individuals, as well as groups, range from expressions of grief to those of rage. Whereas the latter implies the danger of destruction and irreversible damage, the former searches for the potentialities of a Coming-together for a collective healing. But such form of Coming-together cannot be initiated and maintained through the mainstream languages of politics, rather through embodied knowledge and experiences shared among societies. With that regard, the project mainly questions notions of witnessing, participation and embodiment to extend the function of care and mourning for such Coming-together in precarious times.

Photo Credit: Care and Become, mourning performance at Menelik II Square, Addis Ababa, 2020
Berhanu Ashagrie Deribew is a visual artist, a researcher and an assistant professor at Addis Ababa University – Alle School of Fine Arts and Design. His artistic engagements have mainly been focused on issues that come along with the notion and activities of urbanization, modernization, change, development in relation to urban spaces / places and their precarious conditions. His works are mainly generated outside studio environment and have been shown multiple times in Ethiopia and abroad.
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