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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Surface and Shadow 2, 2016 
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
108 5/8 x 204 5/8 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Surface and Shadow 2, 2016 (detail)
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
108 5/8 x 204 5/8 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tighrope, Zooming In
2012
Reclaimed electronic compnents on panel 
83 1/2 x 313 in.
212.1 x  795 cm
 

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope: Zooming In, 2012 (detail)
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
83 1/2 x 313 in.
 

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 6
2016    
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
55 1/4 x 79 1/2 in.
140.3 x 201.9 cm

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Surface and Shadow 1
2016    
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
46 x 79 1/2 in.
116.8 x 201.9 cm  

 
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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 1
2016    
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
46 x 79 1/2 in.
116.8 x 201.9 cm

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 7
2016    
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
55 x 87 1/2 in. 
139.7 x 222.3 cm 

 
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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 2, 2016 
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
83 x 87 1/2 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 2, 2016 (detail)
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
83 x 87 1/2 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 3, 2016 
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
81 3/8 x 126 in.
 

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 3, 2016 (detail)
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
81 3/8 x 126 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 7, 2009-14 
Reclaimed electronic components, mixed media and wire on panel
110 1/2 x 361 in. (overall)

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 7, 2009-14 (detail)
Reclaimed electronic components, mixed media and wire on panel
110 1/2 x 361 in. (overall)

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ELIAS SIME 
Tightrope: Infatuation
2015
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
92 x 142 1/2 in.
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ELIAS SIME 
Tightrope 3
2009-14 
Reclaimed electronic components and fiberglass on panel 
5 3/4 x 16 feet
175.26 x 487.68 cm

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 5.1
2009-14
Reclaimed electronical wires on panel
130 1/4 x 93 1/4 in.
330.8 x 236.85 cm

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 5.1 (detail)
2009-14
Reclaimed electronical wires on panel
130 1/4 x 93 1/4 in.
330.8 x 236.85 cm

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 9, 2009-14 
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
63 x 236 1/2 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 9, 2009-14 (detail)
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
63 x 236 1/2 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope: Myopia 2 
2015
Reclaimed electronic components on panel
63 1/2 x 48 1/4 in.
161.3 x 122.6 cm

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ELIAS SIME 
Tightrope Mobile
2009-14 
Reclaimed electronical wires on panel 
108 x 128 in.
274.3 x 325.1 cm

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ELIAS SIME 
Tightrope Mobile (detail)
2009-14
Reclaimed electronical wires on panel 
108 x 128 in.
274.3 x 325.1 cm

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 6.A, 2009-14 
Reclaimed electrical wires on panel
75 1/2 x 133 in.

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ELIAS SIME
Tightrope 6.A, 2009-14 (detail)
Reclaimed electrical wires on panel
75 1/2 x 133 in.

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ELIAS SIME 
Ants & Ceramicists 10
2009-14 
Yarn stitch and found objects on canvas
61 x 33 x 2 in.
154.9 x 83.8 x 5.1 cm

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ELIAS SIME 
Ants & Ceramicists 10 (detail)
2009-14 
Yarn stitch and found objects on canvas
61 x 33 x 2 in.
154.9 x 83.8 x 5.1 cm

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ELIAS SIME 
What is Love? 13
2007 
Yarn stitch on canvas 
37 3/4 x 29 1/4 x 1 in.
95.9 x 74.3 x 2.5 cm

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ELIAS SIME 
What is Love? 13 (detail)
2007 
Yarn stitch on canvas 
37 3/4 x 29 1/4 x 1 in.
95.9 x 74.3 x 2.5 cm

Artist BioDownload Bio English PDF
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ELIAS SIME

Elias Sime (b.1968 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is a multi-disciplinary artist working primarily in relief sculpture and architecture. For more than twenty-five years, the artist has made collage and sculptural assemblage from found objects such as thread, buttons, plastic, animal skins, horn, fabric and bottle tops, alongside organic building materials and binding agents such as mud and straw. Many of the objects come from Mercato, the Addis Ababa open-air market said to be the largest in Africa, and in particular the market’s Menalesh Tera section—literally “what do you have?”—where trash is repurposed in resourceful ways and its new potential is shared among the community.

 

Sime’s work achieves effects from dense narrative to austere modernist abstraction. The artist resists the collagist’s shorthand of using discarded objects as traces or poetic stand-ins for human feelings or individual lives, favoring instead the idea of what Frieze writer Quinn Latimer has called “the feverish fusion of a multivalent society.” Sime is as interested in a stripped motherboard from a mobile phone as he is an animal skull or worn-out button: the artist looks past the emotional weighting of new versus old, instead finding renewal everywhere, and taking greatest interest in the way that objects and ideas can connect in new ways.

 

Sime has a masterful handling of material, with fluency and pure formal instincts a hallmark of his practice. In the past decade he has sought to better understand the cultural and historic underpinnings of those instincts, traveling with the anthropologist Meskerem Assegued through rural villages in Ethiopia to research ancient rituals still in practice. Sime collects histories and vernacular techniques as much as objects.

 

In Holland Cotter’s New York Times review of Sime’s first commercial gallery show at James Cohan in fall 2015, he wrote, “His work, while culturally specific, has always been universalist. And although never without critical thrust--no one knows better the horrors visited on Africa by shipments of toxic Western e-waste --it is utopian. Certainly some of what’s in this show has a kind of concentrated beauty I haven’t seen in his art before.”


Elias Sime is one of the most prominent names in the East African art scene, having founded, designed and constructed the Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa, an international art center described by the New York Times in 2014 as “a voluptuous dream, a swirl of ancient technique and ecstatic imagination.” His work has been shown internationally at the Dak’Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal; the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Austria; and in the US at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and a survey exhibition that traveled from the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, to the North Dakota Museum of Art. Sime designed props and artwork for Peter Sellars’ production of Igor Stravinsky’s opera Oedipus Rex, which has been performed at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Sydney Opera House.


Elias Sime’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Perez Museum of Art, Miami; North Dakota Museum of Art; Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire; Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY; and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.

 

Exhibitions
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Gallery Exhibition
Elias Sime
Twisted & Hidden
533 W26 ST | APR 28 - JUNE 17
New York
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Gallery Exhibition
Elias Sime
September 10 - October 17, 2015
New York
Press / Media
Articles / Reviews
Art in America
"Elias Sime," by Leigh Anne Miller
Articles / Reviews
The International New York Times
"Arts Center in Ethiopia Links Global and Local," by Ginanne Brownell Mitic
Articles / Reviews
Pin-Up
"Elias Sime Interview with Hans-Ulrich Obrist"
Articles / Reviews
Hyperallergic
"Finding Our Way Amid the Modern Fatalism of Circuit Boards," by Seph Rodney
Articles / Reviews
The New York Times
"Elias Sime Recycles Discarded Objects Into Abstract Works," by Holland Cotter
Articles / Reviews
Artsy
"In Sprawling Panels, Ethiopian Artist Elias Sime Recycles the First World’s Circuit Boards," by Alex Allenchey
Articles / Reviews
Artefuse
"Elias Sime at James Cohan Gallery," by Bansie Vasvani
Articles / Reviews
Artspace
“10 of the Best Artworks of the 2015 Armory Show,” by Andrew M. Goldstein
Articles / Reviews
African Arts
"Tightrope: Elias Sime," by Kate Cowcher
Articles / Reviews
Huffington Post
“The Art of Elias Simé,” by Peter Clothier
Articles / Reviews
Frieze Magazine
“Elias Simé,” by Quinn Latimer
Articles / Reviews
The New York Times
"The Talk; Hut Couture," by Susan Morgan
Articles / Reviews
Los Angeles Times
“Review: 'Elias Sime: Eye of the Needle, Eye of the Heart' at Santa Monica Museum of Art,” by David Pagel
Articles / Reviews
Christian Science Monitor
“The trash of life is Elias Sime's art," by Gloria Goodale
News
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Gallery Exhibition
New York, New York
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News / Events
Raleigh, North Carolina
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Museum Exhibition
The Distance of a Day: New in Contemporary Art
April 20 - October 29, 2016
Jerusalem
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News / Events
October 2013
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Museum Exhibition
Solo Exhibition
January 17 - February 14, 2011
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Museum Exhibition
Solo Exhibition
January 24 - April 18, 2009
Santa Monica, California