At a show held in cooperation with Akbank Sanat and Tarabya Cultural Academy, titled "Faces and Places," artist Theo Eshetu presents two video installations at the exhibition called "Atlas Fractured" (2017) that consists of a series of portrait photographs and "The Slave Ship" (2015). Theo Eshetu fictionalized "Atlas Fractured" in Tarabya and then developed it for Documenta 14.
Cultural identities are never shown to be constant or defined. Indeed, they are created and formed by political future projects while being both constructed and deconstructed with historical incidents. They fluctuate with the displaced cultural objects in addition to migrating populations. The notion of cultural identities is essential for an ordinary Theo Estheu work.
His work titled "Atlas Fractured," which was exhibited at Documenta 14, can be shown as an attempt to reflect on the history of cultural identities over the representations of faces. By reflecting the replicas of icons, masks and art works on real life people, the work exposes alternative stories and histories. It doesn't put European cultural codes at the center as it inquiries how valid is it to draw borders on the basis of continents. Physiognomy doesn't find a common ground with geography as countries are integrated more due to the high rate of dynamism.
Born in 1958 in London, Theo Eshetu lives and works in Rome and Berlin. The artist spent his childhood in Ethiopia, Senegal and Italy. His multinational and multicultural family is a representation of identity confusion raised by the ever-globalizing world. Eshetu graduated from North East London Polytechnic in 1981. Since then, he has worked with various mediums such as new media forms, documentary and experimental films, video art installations and photography. His works have been exhibited in countries including Italy, U.K., Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Canada, the U.S., Brazil, Japan and China in addition to organizations and venues like Shanghai Biennial, Athens and Kassel Documenta 14, Dak'Art, Ireland Biennial, Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Venice Biennial and Smithsonian Institute. In 2012, he was a scholarship holder for DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm (Artists-in-Berlin Program). Theo Eshetu was the guest artist of Tarabya Cultural Academy from October to December 2016 and September to November 2017.