#017 - Louis Reith
#017 - Louis Reith
Destination: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Date: 09 - 15 September, 2015
About the print:
Dimensions: ± 50 x 70 cm
Colours: 3 colour silkscreen print
Edition: 50 prints, signed and numbered by the artist
(frame not included)
A little word by Louis Reith
“Being a faranji (foreigner) and therefore constantly being the center of attention in the streets, things were quite hectic in the beginning. Not necessarily in a negative way – I had nice conversations with locals and even discovered some great shops – but it was definitely something I had to cope with. During the Ethiopian New Years Eve I came across a bull being slaughtered in the streets. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the blood flowing down the street. It was quite a scene to see three men stripping the skin while a couple of kids held its legs.
I’m a huge fan of roots reggae music. I’m obsessed with it and one might think my trip to Addis was also for spiritual reasons, but actually I’m an agnostic atheist at heart. Still, on our way down from Mount Entoto there was a moment where a sudden feeling of pure happiness overtook me. Tears of joy streamed down my face. It might be the lack of sleep the night before, the exhausting hours of climbing the mountain, the great company of Nick, Jiyo and Fana and the fact that I’m a sensitive person in general. But it seriously felt as if The Most High Jah Rastafari embraced me for a moment.
While in Addis I deliberately searched for images and graphic elements, not just for inspiration but already with the idea to incorporate them within the print. For example the man entering the doorway is an image from an old book cover. I also found an Amharic / English book with short biographies of some well-known Ethiopian artists which gave me the opportunity to use Amharic text as a sort of secret message (which is a key element in my artworks). Even the No symbol is scanned from a so-called short distance single trip ticket, which I found on the street. Besides working with found footage I also knew the colours I wanted to work with. And though it’s quite obvious to use green, gold and red I’m happy with the vibe that the colours portray.”
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
I’ll be spending most of day one up in the air.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Yesterday Nick and I arrived at the hotel around two at night. Once they opened the gates for us it appeared the place was fully booked. But after a beer and a chat with the hotel clerk, he recognized Nick from his stay last year and suddenly we had room. Lucky!
The morning was super easy going. We drank coffee, got us some bottles of water, told our friends and family we arrived safely (WiFi!) and had some breakfast across the street. In the day we wandered around the neighborhood and visited some music stores where we scored some traditional Ethiopian cassettes and this amazing CDR. And then we met Lome, a musician who wanted to show us around and though we initially told him we wanted to go on our own way he convinced us to come to this collectors storage. It turned out to be a paradise! It was a 5 square meter room filled with old records and books. We talked and listened to music while I was climbing piles of stuff looking for gems. Nick shoot a lot of photo’s and we payed too much for our goods but it was okay. We had a great stay, the best shelter for a thunderstorm.
Tonight we’ll be meeting up with Melaku Belay, a famous dancer from Addis. If you don’t know him, check him out!
Friday, September 11, 2015
My view today. This morning I woke up feeling really sick. First I thought it was a hangover from the amazing night we had with Melaku at Fendika, his bar. We met so many nice people, laughed with the crowd about the musicians making fun of us all and we drank and drank…
But after spending the morning in the restroom and a little walk around town, I had to go back to bed. Addis is quite an intense city. There are constantly eyes on us, kids hanging on our clothes and people walk with us to chat and later ask for money. But I was feeling miserable and really needed some rest.
Around five (European time) Nick convinced me to come hang with this Dutch 61 year old woman in the courtyard. The sun was shining and I had to eat something anyways. She turned out to be Amina (or Fana as they call her here in Ethiopia), a true Rastafarian that used to be the promoter of the mighty King Shiloh Soundsystem in the early days. We talked (she talked, we listened to her amazing stories), we ate and we laughed while the electricity went on and off. It was such a fun evening and Fana took good care of us. Bless!
While Addis is getting ready for the Ethiopian new year, I’m in bed. Better safe than sorry. In the distance I hear the people partying and I’m hoping to lose this illness asap.
I couldn’t resist… Happy New Year!
An amazing 2008 to you all!
Saturday, September 12, 2015
The disturbing picture of yesterday night was a big cow being slaughtered out on the street. And apparently it wasn’t the only animal that didn’t make 2008. Today on our way back from the Lion of Judah statue we found this goat head.
After a good night of rest, some painkillers and pills for my stomach I felt great again! We had traditional New Year coffee in the morning and then we went out.
There was a great vibe in the streets and for some reason we felt more comfortable with beggars and robbers. They made fun of us and we made fun of them, in a nice and positive way. We talked with the people, wishing them a happy New Year and we danced with the kids. Nick made pictures and I did some sound recordings. Afterwards we hang with our new friends, had a great dinner and went to Fendika again where the musicians made fun of me being a “ferenj”. The people clapped and laughed and we laughed with them. Oh, I love this city!
Monday, September 14, 2015
Our friends Davide from Italy and Gustavo & Yeni from Spain left very early in the morning, traveling to other parts of Ethiopia. So we went together with Fana (Amina the Rasta woman) and Jiyo (a girl from Korea who has been traveling around Ethiopia for a month now) across the street to get some breakfast.
Afterwards we had a legendary coffee at Mecato and then we went for the big plan of the day: climb the mount Entoto.
We got in a mini bus with around a dozen locals. The driver was playing a great tune (Fana was dancing in the front seat) while Nick and I put our caps on two young girls heads. Their mothers laughed and the children giggled and thanked us when we had to get out. And then we walked. First through a busy market street which slowly changed into a calm but steep road with a few houses (shacks), where cars packed with people would pass us every now and then. But we walked and we were blown away by the energy of 61 year old Fana! We passed farmers with goats and little children in front of their houses that smiled, waved and yelled the only English words they knew: “Hi! How are you?” and sometimes “Where are you from?” The view was amazing and it was warm and sunny on the mountain. Rain was coming down from a huge cloud above the city and we could hear the thunderstorm in the distance. We walked all the way up while Fana told us stories about this spiritual place.
Back at our hotel we had a few beers and we slept like babies.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
On our last day we went treasure and souvenir hunting. Again with the two greatest people from Addis; Fana and Jiyo. We all bought a Haile Selassie I t-shirts at Fana’s favorite shop, got us some Ethiopian coffee, thea and spices, hopped in a taxi for scarfs at Salem’s Ethiopia and stroll through the streets to find Ethiopian flags while Nick was taking photo’s of taxi drivers for a personal project. The rain didn’t made it easy for us but the people kindly let us shelter in their shops.
When I finished the screen print I’ll reflect a little more on this amazing trip. For now I’m super tired because of the long journey home.
I do like to take this moment to thank my pal Nick for everything! Jeroen, the kind people at Baro Hotel, Fana, Jiyo, Melaku and the people at Fendika, Davide, the Spanish guys, Sir Gustavo, our taxi man… Bless!