Dakar - Ezra Wube plays with past and present notions with his stop animation videos, drawing inspirations form Ethiopian folklore.
The artist who hails from Ethiopia, but lives in the United States, is exhibiting two video installations at the Dakar Biennale. Each video is inspired by the desire to keep traditions alive and preserve culture through story telling.
Using traditional techniques of painting with digital recording, combined with scenes set in Addis Ababa where he spent the first 18 years of his life, Wube’s stop action animation finds relevance.
The seven minute video titled Hisab follows three characters, a goat, a donkey, and a dog, who share a taxi ride. The goat does not pay the taxi fare; the donkey pays the exact fare; and the dog overpays. The folktale exposes why donkey’s stand in the middle of the road, why dogs chase after taxis and why goats run away from taxi’s.
Goats runs away from taxis, because they are afraid to be asked for the fare, dogs chase after taxis because they are running for the change they are owed, and donkeys stand in the middle of the road, because they are even with the taxi man.
In the three minute video titled Wenzu, he uses salt, tomatoes, onions, teff, and lentils to animate the tale of Hyena and Donkey, Hyena accuses Ms. Donkey of dirtying the water even though she is drinking downstream from him.
Wube said he decided to combine painting and animation, because he was trying to hold on to both traditional and modern ways of art expression.
“Electricity is a major problem, when there is no electricity, my work is dead. Electricity is still a problem in Africa and it is not good for my kind of work” he admitted.