“…I painted her body white because for me, living in this city we call Addis Ababa, we don’t need to fantasize about going to the Inferno—I have seen and experienced enough things to really make me question humanity. I have realized that in order to get ahead here, many people wear masks in order to protect their future. But while doing this, the reality is that I have seen the various atrocities and the great lengths that many will go to in order to maintain their success. So with that in mind, for me the red hands symbolize the guilt associated with the thirst for upward mobility. The cloth wrapped around Salem’s body is specifically from the southern region of Ethiopia, which has endured several centuries of oppression, slavery, and so forth. For the background color, I chose the off-grey because it reminds me of dirty snow; this reminds me of my childhood growing up in Canada, in the midst of the bitter cold, and also the challenges that I faced being an African immigrant in an all-white community.”
Retrieved from The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists by Simon Njami.
For more information on The 99 Series, visit Muluneh’s website here.