Press Release  August 7, 2020

Elias Sime Remixes Tech Detritus in Stunning New Works

© Elias Sime 2019, image courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York

Elias Sime, Tightrope: Noiseless 4 (detail), 2019. Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel. 109 x 122 1/2 in. Anderson Cooper Collection 2020.142

ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis Art Museum presents new work by Ethiopian artist Elias Sime in the 118th installment of the museum’s popular Currents contemporary art series. The free exhibition will be on view at the re-opened museum in Galleries 249 and 250 through January 31, 2021.

Founded in 1978, the Currents series serves as a laboratory for emerging and mid-career artists to create and exhibit new work. Featured artists have included Shimon Attie, Matthew Buckingham, Dale Chihuly, Leonardo Drew, Brian Eno, Ellen Gallagher, Frank Gehry, Donald Judd, Julie Mehretu, Richard Serra and Cindy Sherman.

© Elias Sime 2019, image courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York

Elias Sime, Tightrope: Noiseless 4, 2019. Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel. 109 x 122 1/2 in. Anderson Cooper Collection 2020.142

Sime (born 1968) creates large-scale modular artworks from discarded technological material such as electrical wires, circuit boards, motherboards and computer keys. Sime’s use of the detritus of technological progress touches on diverse themes ranging from environmentalism and globalization to the history of modern art. Sime sources these materials in his hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the Merkato, the biggest open-air market in Africa.

In 2009, Sime began an ongoing series of works called Tightrope. The works in this series embody both the advances made possible by the march of technological progress as well as its impact on humanity and nature as evidenced by the creation of extraordinary amounts of e-waste. Currents 118: Elias Sime will showcase works from the Tightrope series made within the last three years, as well as new work created for this exhibition.

© Elias Sime 2019, courtesy the artist

Elias Sime, Tightrope: Noiseless 1, 2019. Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel. 112 5/8 x 173 1/4 in. Purchased with funds from The Phyllis Cannon Wattis Endowment Fund, from the Permanent Collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts 2020.139

In addition to his studio practice, Sime co-founded and helps run the Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa, which he opened in 2019 with curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued. Merging art with community engagement and sustainability, Zoma is comprised of a school, farm, library, garden, café and exhibition space. In 2019, Sime received an African Art Award from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Currents 118: Elias Sime is supported by the Dana Brown Endowed Fund for Education and Community Programs and by a grant from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis. The exhibition is curated by Hannah Klemm, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, with Molly Moog, research assistant for modern and contemporary art.

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