The first comprehensive survey of video artist and filmmaker Theo Eshetu's extensive body of work. It provides documentation and critical analysis of Eshetu's practice, in which he examines the imagery of the collective unconscious, exploring cultural identity and challenging official media narratives through a complex interplay of signs and symbols.
Throughout his prolific career, spanning over thirty-five years, Theo Eshetu has created a distinctive poetic visual vocabulary using abstract rhythmic montage and hypnotic syncopated collages of images to create experimental films. Both philosophical and whimsically playful, Eshetu's videos possess a dreamlike quality in which gestures, fragmented actions, and the mirroring and multiplying of images into kaleidoscopic patterns question the very reality of what an image can reveal.
This publication provides an in-depth exploration of Eshetu's engagement with a variety of genres and media, including experimental cinema, essay and documentary films, large-scale video installations, and live performances. Alongside documentation of his work, this book provides a critical contextualization of Eshetu's practice since the late 1970s: video-art historian Wulf Herzogenrath engages with Eshetu's early work in the context of experimental video making in the 1980s; writer and curator David Elliot provides an in-depth analysis of three of Eshetu's feature-length films; curator Okwui Enwezor talks to Eshetu about the role of music, montage, and the representation of Africa in his films; and Monika Szewczyk provides a commentary on his work for documenta 14, Atlas Fractured (2017).
Theo Eshetu (born 1958 in London, lives and works in Berlin) has worked in media art since 1982, creating installations, video art works, and television documentaries. As a videomaker, he explores the expressive capabilities of the medium and the manipulation of the language of television. Exploring themes and imagery from anthropology, art history, scientific research, and religious iconography, his work redefines how electronic media shapes identity and perception. World cultures, particularly the relationship of African and European cultures, often inform Eshetu's work.