Ethiopian photographer, artist, and cultural entrepreneur, Aïda Muluneh’s (b. 1974, Ethiopia) vibrant photographs were recently acquired by MoMA and featured in their exhibition, Being: New Photography 2018. Her works express what it is to be an African woman, to encapsulate gender and identity, and to situate it within the colonial experience. Her most recent series, Mirror of the Soul draws from the artist’s day to day experiences living in Addis Ababa, the moments of uncertainty, and the subsequent global phenomena of having to embrace unpredictability. Looking to her background as a photojournalist, Muluneh uses this foundation of visual and symbolic language and blends it with the sentiments, intensity, and passion of poetry. The title of her new series comes from a line in Nikki Giovanni’s The Laws of Motion that reads, "The eyes however are the mirror to the soul.” Giovanni’s poems inspired Muluneh to likewise share what is within her, and to share it with fearless honesty. Muluneh’s vibrant photographs express what it is to be an African woman, to encapsulate gender and identity, and to position it within the post-colonial experience. She interrogates the foreign gaze, and also raises the awareness of the impact of photography in shaping cultural perceptions.
Muluneh was recently featured in the exhibition Water Life at Somerset House, the cover of Departures magazine, and Being: New Photography 2018 at MoMA. Other recent exhibitions include Reflections of Hope at the Agha Khan Museum in Toronto, the Daegu Photo Biennale in South Korea, and In Their Own Form at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. She was awarded the 2018 Catchlight Fellowship. 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. She is in collections including MoMA, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, Toledo Museum of Art, Hood Museum, and National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.