Sime incorporates the refuse from consumer electronics, repurposing salvaged components such as circuits and keyboards to create abstract compositions. The materials he uses are sourced from the largest open-air market in Africa located in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where Simeís practice is based. These works present an implicit commentary on the fact that countries in Africa are often the repositories of e-waste imported from elsewhere in the world and they point to the urgency of, and different approaches to, sustainability.
Sime is uncompromising in his method of constructing elaborate arrangements from ephemera. The artist braids used wires into roiling terrains with biomorphic features, transmuting discarded technology into a more enduring power source- art. The craftsmanship and seeminglyeffortless universalism of the works re-frame the iniquitous global processes that have resulted in their formation. His work functions as a prism and kaleidoscope, on the one hand fearlessly aesthetic; on the other, a platform to confront challenging topics, which Sime proposes are not mutually exclusive goals.
Sime is deeply involved in developing the Ethiopian art community and has established a research practice studying the ancient rituals of rural communities in the country. In 2002, he co-founded and designed the ZOMA Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa, working in cooperation with the founding director, curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued. His work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (US); the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (US); and in 2009, a retrospective of his work travelled from the Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA (US), to the North Dakota Museum of Art, ND (US). A solo exhibition is currently on view at the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, NY (US) until December 9, 2019.
Elias Simeís work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (US); The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (IL); North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC (US); Toledo Museum of Art, OH (US); Perez Museum of Art, Miami, FL (US); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA (US); Detroit Institute of Arts, MI (US); Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA (US); North Dakota Museum of Art, ND (US); Newark Museum, NJ (US); Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH (US); Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (US); Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, NH (US); Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY (US); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (US); and the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, Santa Fe, NM (US).
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