Inferno is made of history, not only of a country but of self, of exile, of bloodshed, of loss of mourning, of bitterness, of broken hearts and broken wings. The inferno is not down below; it is here, ever-present, next to us, in our memories and in our minds. It is made of delusions, of prostration, of hiding behind masks to validate our existence and our hidden agenda’s; it’s a mask we wear to fool ourselves and others in an attempt to get ahead, yet we are void in our survival. We live in the gray existence, uncomfortable like the dirty snow of western winters or like the polluted skyline of what we call Ethiopian Modernity.
Pulled between the past, the present and the future, we wrap ourselves with forgotten heritage and dream of looking towards the future, but we are stuck looking into the past. For eternity we are toiling with rituals and ceremony, yet our past deeds are markerd by unhealing wounds, the blood of false victory stitched by the threads of nostalgia. A story we each carry, of loss, of oppressors, of victims, of disconnection, of belonging, of longing you see paradise in the dark abyss of eternity.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
The Wolf You Feed collection is a reflection on the personal and outer battles that people face. The battle between good and evil, between the path we choose and the one that is chosen for us. In our busy day of living this life, we often forget that the most basic elements of our lives are based on the choices that we make and how these choices have an impact on our families, communities and society.
Many of the themes in this body of work relate to human nature and interaction. The problems of this world are a manifestation of the deterioration of our societies and the obsession of our own mortality. Some of us believe in God, some of us believe in spirituality, some in money and others in fame and so forth. Does anyone dream of a better world or have we grown comfortable in accepting the nightmare as a reality? We have become like by standards of an accident, watching with passivity for our own self-satisfaction, yet in the distance the world burns. Which is the wolf you are feeding?
Living in Addis Ababa for the past nine years has been a lesson; a lesson in humility, and a lesson in what it means to return to a land that was foreign to me. Over the past nine years, an expression of my grandmother has stuck in my mind – she would say, “The world is 9, it is never complete and it’s never perfect.” I thought it was interesting, but it wasn’t until much later as an adult that her voice echoed in my thoughts of whether we can live in this world with full contentment.
In this world, we are idealists seeking perfection but living in a reality which does not afford us that balance. Life is unpredictable and imperfect – we must conquer these challenges with strength and endurance because the world within us and the world knocking on our door, bears the unknown future.
Regardless, through these experiences, I was inspired to create 28 new pieces of work. Each image is an exploration of questions about life, love, and history. I am not seeking answers but asking provocative questions about the life that we live – as people, as nations, as beings. I have chosen to continue working on body painting, which is inspired by traditional body art from across Africa. Each work is a reflection of conscious and sub-conscious manifestations of time and space.