For this weeks blog post I offer a further instalment from my trip to Ethiopia last year. A couple of days ago, however, my work machine, my laptop, had a total power failure, & needs a replacement motherboard. Fortunately I have been lent an old pc, which is a 'life-saver', but functions at about half the speed of my own wonderful, but currently defunct machine. So, rather than spending oodles of time processing images for this post, each by its idiosyncracies, I decided less is more. So, of the hundreds of photos I took whilst being driven about Addis Abeba, Ethiopia's capital city, here is a selection covering a range of subjects, but with just minor straightening, occasional cropping of a wing mirror & a little tonal adjustment; just enough to draw the reality of Addis street life from the screen.
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Addis Abeba was the base for our trip. Pablo & I stayed with our great friend Angela, in her rented apartment, for the majority of our stay. She informed me that, generally, Ethiopian people are quite camera shy, so most of my shooting in the city was done from the car window as we passed through various areas of Addis on our numerous outings.
Addis is like no city I ever visited, it felt like it was being held together by anticipation, though I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that, it's simply a feeling.
As you will notice from the images here, the great western brands of Coca-Cola & Pepsi, (amongst others) are as incessant here as anywhere, in their cash-leeching invasiveness, punting the sucrose dream in a classic package, vended in an elegant precision-machined cannister, ergonomically designed for optimum imbibing pleasure, in any weather.
The moving colour on the streets is a distraction from, & contrasting to the general dilapidation of much of the city. The people in Addis fill the streets with colour, with their clothes & the decorated taxies, adorned with painted flames & Arsenal & Chelsea football stickers (Ethiopians love European football). Most of the common blue & white taxies are Japanese cars from the '70s & '80s, Datsuns & Nissans, patched up & held together by faith.
I felt displaced throughout my whole visit to Ethiopia. I wanted to reach out to the people I saw around me, but felt I had nothing worthy of myself to offer. I felt an interrogating blend of emotional discomfort & moral disquietude, a culturally debilitating mixture, resembling shame. I was constantly at a loss to evaluate my presence in this place, as it was, a stream of unending ambiguity; and continually exascerbating my emotional discontent by ever applying a foundering cerebral arrogance, that thought itself irreproachable. I am not ignorant & often wondered at what I was actually witnessing in the everyday life on view around me. I felt while amongst the life, I was in no way part of it, like I was a two-dimensional film character existing in a partial reality. Was it just my thoughts immeasurably misinterpreting the reality about me, or mal-addressing the waves of emotion that rose over me in swells, at the seeming cool resilience to & gentle inclusion of an all pervading material poverty that is abundantly omnipresent.
During my time in Ethiopia I photographed what I could; the landscape in it's unwavering awesomeness, the city in its vibrant , & simultaneously urbanely developing & crumbling sprawl, & the people, always at distance. I believe I did not capture much of the intimate essence of the people of Ethiopia, & this is a lesson in the learning, for opportunities to venture to such distinct & unique lands may turn out in life to be few & far between. So, maybe I didn't capture all that I could have afterall...
All images captured using Fujifilm Finepix X100 with fixed 23mm lens.
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