What are the in(visible) dimensions of fruit that could help us trace the effects and affects of the radical and rapid gentrification of Addis Ababa? Fruits, an important product in agrarian economies and tropical areas, are an essential part of the urban landscape, they can be found in houses, gardens, orchards, markets, parks, street vendors, supermarkets, informal stands and shops. The transformation of Addis Ababa is changing its traditional and distinctive ways of organization and transactions. City development involves processes where spontaneity is replaced by homogenization, and informality by dependency and bureaucracy. How has this affected the domains associated to fruit? Are fruit stands disappearing and is this another example of how every sphere the city is being affected by gentrification? Situations like this lead me to believe that it is possible to trace relations of power through fruits. Being this a project rooted in the specificity of the context, there are some basic questions that will set the ground to talk about fruits and politics in terms of power. How are fruits sold? Who sells them? Are they shared? Do they generate empathy? What’s their condition in the public sphere? How has this changed in recent years? The conjunctural moment that Addis Ababa is going through and its geopolitical status makes it a very exciting and challenging context for this research.
Following the invitation of Alle School of Arts and Design* I conducted a workshop with a group of seven participants (4 art students, 1 design student and 3 young teacher assistants) where together we identified fruit in Addis Ababa’s urban landscape and discussed the presence of fruit in Ethiopian culture. This gave us a rich overview on how different instances of politics can be viewed though fruit, and opened exciting possibilities to continue with the research in this city. To wrap up the workshop I hosted a fruit event in the Academy Gallery with the collaboration of the workshop participants.
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*My visit to Ethiopia was possible thanks to a grant by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia and the kind support of Alle School of Art and Design, Addis Ababa University.