The Ethiopian artist Aida Muluneh will bring her highly-acclaimed photo series "Water Life" to London's Somerset House this September, as part of the creative institution's "ongoing strand of environmental programming." The highly-acclaimed series addresses water scarcity—particularly its grave impact on the wellbeing of women and girls.
Described as an "afrofuturist work," the series was shot in Dallol, Afar in Ethiopia, an extreme setting known to have the hottest and driest conditions on earth. "Taking inspiration from traditional ornamentation and body paint from across the African continent, the Ethiopian-born artist has explored not just issues of water scarcity and ecological emergency but also the vital role of art in advocacy and how Africa is represented in global media," reads a description of "Water Life."
The artist adds that with the series, she wanted to use art as a tool to challenge commonly held notions about African life. "My main goal in building this collection is to address the issues caused by a lack of access to clean water, and the impact that has not only on a society as a whole, but on women, particularly in rural regions," she says Muluneh "We cannot refute that it is mainly women who bear responsibility for collecting water, a burden that has great consequences for our future and the development of our nation. My focus in this project was to address these topics without the cliché that we see in mainstream media. In a sense, to advocate through art."
The project was commissioned by WaterAid with support from the H&M Foundation. "We're so excited to be collaborating with artist Aida Muluneh and Somerset House on 'Water Life'. Aida's unique and compelling vision, expressed through this collection, not only brings women's experiences centre-stage but also helps catalyse real change," said Neil Wissink, Photography Manager at WaterAid. "We're proud, as an NGO, to have been able to work with an artist of Aida's calibre, bringing our issues to light in a wholly new and exciting way."
The 12-image series will be on display from September 24 to October 20 at Somerset House in London. Preview more images from 'Water Life" below.