Elias Sime mines the real world for the repurposed materials that comprise his monumental collages—buttons, batteries, bottle caps, clothes, dismembered computers and cellphones—sourcing most of his materials from the huge open air market, the Merkato, in Addis Ababa, where electronic waste is shipped in bulk from other places around the world. As described in a recent review of his work, Sime’s materials, “the electronic odds and ends gathered from Ethiopian markets weren’t made there. Most hail from Western countries and represent the profusion of waste left behind by an accelerated consumer culture. By stitching together objects that originated from countries around the world, but that he sourced not far from his Addis Ababa home, Sime speaks to the troubled relationship between the countries that created tremendous amounts of e-waste and those that process it.”
Part of a series of works, all titled Tightrope, Sime has said that “the title refers to the precarious balance a city must maintain to survive and thrive,…” and many of his works look like bird’s eye views of massive, sprawling cities. Tightrope 9 is meticulously crafted out of discarded computer circuit boards, cut into pieces and re-combined in complicated patterns, the circuit boards are nailed to a series of six pressed/composite board panels. In Sime’s words, he treats his discarded materials “as oil paint, acrylic or clay,” using the found colors of his materials as his palette. The dense and complex composition, colors, and intricate details of his labor-intensive work bring to mind maps and aerial views, celestial navigation systems and urban grids. Also known for his intricate textile works – elaborately and obsessively hand-stitched—Sime’s found object constructions and collages mimic traditional textiles with their patterns, shapes, processes, and compositions. Simultaneously one can infer the sinuous lines of natural growth, trees, or river systems.
tags: contemporary art
Purchased with funds from Mr. and Mrs. N. Richard Miller in memory of Martin B. Rosenthal, by exchange
© Elisa Sime. Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York