Theo Eshetu spent part of his childhood in Ethiopia. His works draw heavily from African imagery and reveal the artist’s fascination for the interrelation of world cultures and the metaphysical nature of the electronic image. Interested in the expressive potential of video and its distinctiveness from other art forms, Eshetu has worked in media art since 1982, challenging conventional genres and moving across formats including experimental video, installation art, documentary and photography.
Anima Mundi (2014) is a narrative development of an earlier work by Eshetu, Brave New World (2000). It is an ingenious illusion that opens, layer by layer, into a hall of mirrors. At the first glance, the viewer sees what appears to be a flat screen monitor on the wall showing shifting abstract patterns. On closer inspection, a giant globe within reveals faceted images of various rituals. On peering even deeper, the viewer plunges, like Alice, through the looking glass into a kaleidoscopic, multi-dimensional space of myriad echoes and iterations of his or her own image.
Ultimately, in Eshetu’s words, “The viewer is reflected as the sole spectator of a cosmic spectacle.” Anima Mundi draws on a wealth of images, inviting the viewer to follow an abstract narrative. Footage of early experiments to capture an image on a cathode ray tube, rituals and dances from diverse cultures, X-rays and animated statues all point to a metaphysical cosmology that attempts to capture what the artist terms “the soul of the world”. In this linking of western and eastern philosophies within the shifting spectra of a theatrical mirrored box, the self meets the Other and personal reflections collide with mediated spectacle.