GROUND LEVEL, COLES Court ADJOINING GALLERY 1
ETHIOPIA, BORN 1990
LIVES AND WORKS IN ADDIS ABABA
Girma Berta has been photographing people on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, since around 2014. His earlier photographs were documentary in style, but over time his work has become more refined and stylised.
The five photographs from his Moving Shadows series 2017 included in NGV Triennial are from an ongoing body of work in which all background detail has been removed. These photographs show isolated figures, and their shadows, on immersive, coloured backgrounds. The works feature individuals photographed on the streets of Addis Ababa going about the daily lives. Using the camera in his phone, Berta is able to work discretely and capture his subjects without them being aware of his presence.
In all his street-based work, Berta is interested in presenting a ‘portrait’ of the people of Addis Ababa. Working in his studio, he has developed a method to extract aspects of the scenes he photographs from the city’s busy streetscapes. Berta explains further: ‘Through my work on Instagram, I wish the world (would) stare into the eyes of a face of Addis Ababa; the city where I was born and where I grew up. The beautiful, the ugly and all that is in between.’
Girma Berta is a self-taught photographer and graphic designer. In 2016, aged twenty-six, he was awarded the Getty Images Instagram Award and since that time has been included in a number of photography festivals. Berta’s work is shown on Instagram where he has 34,000 followers. Since 2015 he has been exhibiting his photographs in exhibitions and photography festivals.
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Major Supporter Bowness Family Foundation for their support.