An overview of Dawit L. Petros's research into the layers of colonial and post-colonial histories connecting East Africa and Europe. Reframing archival materials about the Italian presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Petros has developed an expansive suite of works reflecting the lingering effects of colonial brutality and revealing the links between the contemporary resurgence of nationalism and a suppressed colonial past.
The practice of Dawit L. Petros (born 1972 in Asmara, Eritrea, lives and works in Montreal and Chicago) is largely informed by studies of global modernisms, theories of diaspora, and postcolonial
theory. He has focused on a critical re-reading of the entanglements between colonialism and modernity. These concerns derive from lived experiences—Petros is an Eritrean immigrant who spent formative years in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Kenya before settling in Canada. The overlapping cultures, perspectives, and tenets of this constellation produced a dispersed consciousness which is transnational in stance and outlook. Petros' works aim for an introspective analysis of the historical factors that produced these migratory conditions, as well as articulating the fluidity of contemporary transnational experiences and attendant issues of displacement, place-making, and cultural negotiation. Petros instals photographs, moving images, sculptural objects, and sound work according to performative, painterly, or site-responsive logics. Moving between the works echoes the extensive travel taken to produce them; while recurrent visual or formal devices quietly indicate the complex backdrops against which his projects are set.