Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aida left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985. In 2000, she graduated with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington D.C. After graduation she worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post, however her work can be found in several international publications.
Also as an exhibiting artist, Aida’s work has been shown in South Africa, Mali, Senegal, Egypt, Canada, United States of America, France, Germany, England, China, to name a few countries. A collection of her images can be found in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Hood Museum and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United State.
Aida is the founder and director of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa hosted since 2010 in the city of Addis Ababa. She continues to educate, curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art) For Africa Creative Consulting PLC (DFA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Check out more of Aida's work here.
CATCHLIGHT FELLOWSHIP PROJECT
In creating an expansive workshop and mentorship program, Aida Muluneh seeks to support and promote emerging African photographers in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Italy. As she attempts to interrogate the foreign gaze and also to raise the awareness of the impact of photography in shaping cultural perceptions, participating students will develop their own stories based on what they are confronted with in their own countries, historically or through current depictions in the media. Through these her program, Muluneh will also be producing her own collection that explores the relationship between history and images in Africa.
“The Distant Gaze” was a collection initially inspired by images of Ethiopian women documented at the turn of the century by foreign photographers. Many of these images, later commercial postcards in Europe, depicted foreign fantasies in relation to the black female body. I found it impossible not to question the implications of each sitter’s returned gaze. Having served on juries for multiple international photo awards, I’m also keenly sensitive to ongoing under-representation by African photographers. With those issues in mind, I plan to develop a program allowing new storytellers to share their perspective on the continent through an authentic lens.