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Swarm “መንጋ” is a witness of current situation in Ethiopia,
linking environmental issues to humanitarian crisis engulfing Ethiopia at the moment. 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. The cyclical nature of our contemporary crisis is established by framing the antagonist to nature as humanity. We are the danger to our environment. Swarm is a reminder of the deep-rooted pain that comes from our incessant self-destruction as a race.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia