Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aida Muluneh left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985. In 2000, she graduated with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington D.C. After graduation she worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post, however her work can be found in several international publications.
Muluneh's works express what it is to be an African woman, to encapsulate gender and identity, and to situate it within the colonial experience. She attempts to interrogate the foreign gaze and also to raise the awareness of the impact of photography in shaping cultural perceptions. Her most recent series, The Memory of Hope, explores the optimism that once defined her youth. She recalls what is was like to embrace hope with excitement and confidence and to boldly claim a strong opinion regarding what was right and wrong in the world. The reality she discovered with age reflects a much darker side of humanity than she could have ever expected. Through the series, Muluneh aims to amplify what we try not to hear nor see. She makes us witnesses as she takes action.
Muluneh’s vibrant photographs were recently acquired by MoMA and featured in their exhibition, Being: New Photography 2018. Muluneh has been exhibited internationally, including in recent shows: Reflections of Hope (Agha Khan Museum, Toronto), Festival La Gacilly (Austria), the Daegu Photo Biennale (South Korea), and In Their Own Form (Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago). She was awarded the 2018 Catchlight Fellowship. She is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie, in Bamako, Mali as well as the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy. In 2017, she participated in Afrique Capitales in Paris and in the Dakar Biennale. Muluneh founded the Addis Foto Fest, the first international photography festival in Ethiopia, and was recently interviewed by the New York Times on the festival. She continues to educate, curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art) For Africa Creative Consulting PLC (DFA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
As one of the leading experts on photography from Africa, she has been a jury member on several photography competitions most notably the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 and the World Press Photo Contest 2017. She has also been on various panel discussions on photography in events such as African Union cultural summit, Art Basel and Tedx/Johannesburg. She has been featured by the New York Times, Time Magazine, Artnews, Vice, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the British Journal of Photography.
As an exhibiting artist, Aida’s work has been shown in South Africa, Mali, Senegal, Egypt, Canada, United States of America, France, Germany, England, China, to name a few countries. Aida is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, the Toledo Museum of Art, Hood Museum, the Museum of Biblical Art, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Muluneh lives in Ethiopia.