Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” inspired the photo that brought Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh to the forefront of the photography world.
The photo features a model staring straight at the camera, arms folded around herself. Her skin is painted completely white barring a vertical line of black dots down the center of her body and hands dyed blood-red.
“I come from a very orthodox religion, you know,” Muluneh said. “It’s basically the notion that you die and either go to heaven or hell. And my main thing was that the inferno’s actually, we’re living inside of it. So for me you don’t have to die to find the inferno. You can find it within yourself, you can find paradise within yourself.”
In her talk on how Afrofuturism meets fine art in Ethiopia, Muluneh told the story of her photographs and her own personal journey, which took her through Ethiopia, Yemen, Canada and the U.S. before bringing her back to Ethiopia.
Through her photographs, she aims to tell the story of Ethiopia as a complex nation where she said the past, present and future can be seen all at once.
Pick up The Exponent’s print edition Monday for the full story.
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