Currently on view from April 28 through June 17 at James Cohan’s Chelsea location.
Elias Sime is an Ethiopian artist exhibiting at James Cohan for the second time. This second solo exhibit at the gallery features large-scale, wall-mounted artworks constructed from grids of arranged panels encrusted with reclaimed electronics and discarded objects.
Staring at them I’m forced to confront my stream of e-waste and general consumerism, and I don’t like it. It’s ugly, and I’d rather not face it, which is most likely why upon seeing Sime’s work, I wanted to run away.
It’s hard to face the uncomfortable truth that my old buttons, computer pieces, and cell phones are crossing an ocean and becoming poetic stand-ins for individual lives touched by e-waste and finding it’s way back to New York.
Sime’s work is culturally specific, as no one knows the amount of waste shipped to Africa and other countries as he. Electrical wires, fiberglass, and other wasted e-materials weaved together to form the ‘Tightrope’ between society and technology. Sime, has been creating art from technological waste for over twenty-five years, is interested in the way objects and thoughts can be connected in different ways. His work is on one hand, beautiful and kaleidoscope-like in an aesthetic way; on the other, it represents a stage for literally hanging up problems and challenging topics for people to see and discuss; it’s fearless and unabashedly in your face.
It is difficult to deny Sime’s emphasis on the transformative power of human creativity.