Swarm “መንጋ” is a witness of current situation in Ethiopia, linking environmental issues to humanitarian crisis engulfing Ethiopia at the moment. Tracing the narrative of an ordinary Ethiopian citizen’s laborious existence in parallel with the life cycle of trees, Swarm reveals the entangled relationship between nature and human. Wounding one inevitably emerges as a crisis on the other. I highlight the weight of physical labor with movements referencing the work of toiling with earth, to further lean on the narrative that humanity is sustained by nature.
Borrowing from the longstanding tradition of carrying a stick as a lifelong companion, a popular practice by men in rural Ethiopia, I tell the story of the inseparable relationship between environment and humanity. The wielded stick, known us “ሽመል” (Shemel) in Amharic is a support, a weapon, a took, a shield, and an identity marker for the man carrying it. I highlight this entanglement to address the contemporary issue of desert locust swarm, currently destroying the livelihoods of many hardworking farmers. Movements in 1’26” is homage to women mourning the destruction of their crops by the locust swarm with a solemn collective prayer.
Pandemic, civil war, lucaste, drughte. This chaotic situation makes us more dependent on the Lord for strength and power. As children of God, we prepare for a spiritual battle. I was reflecting to illustrate one of the ways we defeat evil is by praying and being strong in spiritual warfare.
As I observed a woman's crying out to God when they saw a swarm of locusts devouring her crops, I adapted this gesture into my artwork.
Details and credits
Concept and directing / Dawit seto
production manager Sarah Bushra
Filming crew - Guzo Films
camera: Gad Kiflom
Editing: Biniam Dejene
There are no spoken words in my vocabulary.
The music we used contains no spoken words or lyrics.
Curious? Interested in submitting artwork to our contest? Know someone who might be? Through April 14th, 2022, the Engage Art Contest is open to the whole world! Get your foot in the door by claiming your Artist Page now!