UNESCO and the Ethiopia’s Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage in partnership with Addis Fine Art (AFA) are pleased to present the exhibition ‘Living Heritage in Addis Ababa’ by Eyerusalem Adugna & Maheder Tadese. As part of the eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, this pop-up exhibition is a timely reflection on the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in urban contexts.
Today, a significant portion of cultural heritage is remembered and remade in urban centers across the globe. As the United Nations strives to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, this photography exhibition showcases the myriad ways in which inherited expressions merge with contemporary living practices in the city of Addis Ababa, as captured through the lens of two young Ethiopian photographers, Eyerusalem Adugna and Maheder Tadese.
Trained at the UNESCO Pan-African Workshop for Professional Media Production in the fields of photojournalism, filmmaking and feature writing, Eyerusalem and Maheder have built professional careers as photographers and have shown their work in exhibitions around the world. Their photographs highlight the diversity of traditional practices, knowledge and skill transfer, and the influence of the urban context in the everyday lives of people in the city of Addis Ababa. Eyerusalem beautifully documents the traditional weaver’s workshop while Maheder’s work skillfully focuses on the revival of Ethiopian dance and music traditions and the process of Injera making as well as the Orthodox holiday of Maskel (Commemoration feast of the Finding of the True Holy Cross of Christ), which is inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Curated by the co-founder of Addis Fine Art, Mesai Haileleul, ‘Living Heritage in Addis Ababa’ shows the tension and creativity that comes with safeguarding living heritage in urban contexts. In doing so, the exhibition promotes the revitalization of intangible cultural heritage in urban environments and raises critical questions about the challenges moving forward. Most importantly, it asks the audience to consider how the viability of these practices relies on the continued safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, now and in the future.
Maheder Tadese is a freelance documentary photographer based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her work focuses on storytelling, changes in urban landscape and giving voice to those who are least heard in her community. Initially a self-taught photographer, Maheder has taken numerous trainings and workshops with renowned photographers and curators from around the globe, including the World Press Photo East Africa Master Class. Her most recent works will be exhibited in Venice, Italy in December 2016 and at the fourth edition of Addis Foto Fest in Addis Ababa.
Eyerusalem Adugna was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She pursued her high school education at Ethio-parents School and went on to study Computer Aid Draft and Design in the United States. Eyerusalem realized her interest in photography in the past three years and has been working to build her knowledge and body of work since. Eyerusalem especially values photography as a tool to document history and as a form of artistic communication and expression. She has participated in several photo exhibitions including, Photoville (New York) 2016 and has been the winner of photography competitions in Ethiopia. Currently, Eyerusalem is a freelance photographer and fashion designer based in Addis Ababa.