Wendimagegn Belete (b.1986, Ethiopia) received an MFA in Contemporary Art from Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art and creative writing, University of Tromsø, Norway in 2017, and BFA from ASFAD, Addis Abeba University, Ethiopia in 2012. He works across a variety of media including video, painting, photography, text and found materials. His works are often about history and identity based on his Ethiopian background. His approach is also concerned with appropriation and reinterpretation of historical archives.
Name: Wendimagegn Belete
Country of origin and where do you live now: I am from Ethiopia and I live in Norway now
Profession: Visual artist
Describe your personality
A hard working, ambitious, I love to be sociable and I am described as a calm and relax person.
How did you get your start with art?
I have been very much interested in art since my childhood, it grew after I join an art academy,
Where do you gather inspiration?
Everything considered to be an inspiration since it influences me directly or indirectly. But three important pillars of my works are, history identity and me. moreover, I am also fascinated by the idea of the epigenetic inheritance, an idea of a memory that transfers over generations. I often feel that my work is a kind of map of that.
What Gets You Out of Bed In The Morning?
Tell us about a moment in your career that really meant something to you?
The time that I quit my private work and joint to an art academy, that was a paradigm shift!
What two questions would you ask to get the most information about who a person truly is?
I would ask questions about truth, love and beauty
Do you have a mission with your art?
Not specifically. The making and the process is the mission
What is the process like for you when creating?
I engage in creative process in or outside studio setting, most importantly studio is a sacred place for thinking and making. I work across a variety of media including video, painting, photography, text and found materials. My work is largely known for being comprised archival footage and found material. I am interested in archive and in the history of representations, these archives are bodies of memory so it's interesting to me to see what's changed and what state stay the same. I am also fascinated by the idea of the epigenetic inheritance, this idea of a memory and experiences that transfers over generations unconventionally. I mainly use appropriation and interpretation of archival videos as a way to materialize this ideas,
What is the future for art in your opinion?
The future is the now, the future of art in my opinion will be referring the now and past, move it into the future in some way.
What was your childhood dream job?
I don't really remember; I am not sure if I were thinking of any job
What was the first thing you ever created and how do you feel about it now?
Not really the first, but I remember that I used to make a mud toys, I really used to enjoy them as a child.
How was your exposure to art growing up?
I was born and grew up in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, it was really a vibrant and active city. was such a great chance to expose myself into music, culture and visual art… joining the art academy makes it more serious and make a shift into professional level.
Do you have any art in your house now?
Yes, I have, most a collection from artist friends
Who were your early influences?
I remember that I was so fascinated by Ethiopian traditional/church paintings, and induced by abstract expressionists after I joined the art academy
Did you assist?
No (if the question is assisting another artist)
Do you have a secret project?
Where is the line between art and not art to you?
It is very hard to put a line between art and none art, rather I believe both sides are deeply interpenetrated. In my opinion separating an art from not art, and put art it in a white cube is a western perspective. Back home, people live art, it’s interwoven in their everyday life and it’s hard to put a clear line between,
What should be the goal of humanity?
Peace and collective well-being, I think
Does art hurt society in any way?
In most cases it doesn't, if we look closer there would still be something to hurt or destroy, since art itself is a human act.
What do you contribute back to society?
the way art contributes to a society depends on the social context, the artist's intent, the art object's reception by the public, form, and subject matter. My existence as an artist is a contribution in itself, my work can be considered to be the repository of a society’s collective memory. engage individuals in a very deep and personal way
What is the most important goal every person should have?
Happiness! Not worry so much about goals in life, Have fun and enjoy life I think for me the most important goal in life is simply being myself and true to the self.
How replaceable are you?
I am unique,
How do you define consciousness?
The state of being aware of the now
What does the fusion of fashion and art mean to you in regard to your work?
As any form of artistic practice, exhibiting work in a venue and conversation about the work is pillar that strengthen my artist practice. Most importantly, it is a platform that tries to blend art and fashion.