Curators Special Projects “Guests From The Future”

Ferenj installation located in the central pavillion in the Giardini

Specifically conceived for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, The Laboratory of the Future, of La Biennale di Venezia curated by Lesley Lokko.  

Director’s statement

What does it mean for “home” to be constructed immaterially via fragments of culture and oral history distorted by the filter of time and migration? What does it mean to have a diasporic identity tied to nostalgia that is at times real and at times fabricated out of necessity?

This adaptation of Ferenj is a continued meditation on the concept of home and identity in diaspora, drawing on scenes from the original VR work, family archives, and new scenes honouring the beauty of the landscapes of inner city Cleveland.

Using crowd-sourced videos and processing them with photogrammetry resulted in irregular fragments with missing pieces. This technology’s inability to portray reflective surfaces reflects my own experience of hyper-

visibility and invisibility in identity. Ferenj's fragments form a curated collection of reconstructed memories portrayed as digital artefacts spanning impossible geographies.

Ferenj is projected onto an interpretation of a “rekkebot” used in Ethiopian coffee ceremonies. This object’s meaning transforms from commonplace to center-stage for culture as performative. The rekkebot’s material is a handwoven neTela fabric. Its sheer quality renders visible the journey of light from surface to interior furthering the contrast between tangibility and intangibility.

Memory can be a site of resistance—its canvas a space of potential, a tool for counterimagining in the present and the reconstruction of reality for liberation from otherness. Ferenj is an experimental form of emancipatory thought, reclaiming my Ethiopian-American mixed race identity, and redefining boundaries between fragmented memories and the digital imaginary.



Experimental & Emancipatory Storytelling
@ahhslay @ferenjvr

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