Girma Berta and iPhone Gazing.
Words:Leen Abu Aisheh
Born in 1990, self-trained Ethiopian photographer Girma Berta, utilizes the camera of his iPhone to capture unique images which record the daily lives of people of his hometown, Addis Ababa. Social media platforms, such as Instagram in particular, have been the ideal place for the illustration of his artistic practices and ideas. Girma won the Getty Images Instagram Award in 2016, and this has brought his name to the attention of the public with a constant admiration for his work since then.
Walking through the diverse roads of his own city, he witnesses different habits and behaviours, consequently initiating narratives with the different characters he encounters. Utilizing his iPhone as a single tool emphasises the digital revolution ongoing in Africa and focuses on the idea of a never-ending journey that the creative has established.
Before being intrigued by the world of photography, Girma had been a graphic designer and this path remains evident in the captivating images he shoots. The eye of the graphic designer he was and still is, enables him to create certain compositions by the situation of his figures amongst bold backdrops, creating unique harmonies accordingly.
In his series Moving Shadows I and II, spectators perceive photographs of individuals carefully cut-out and secluded on rich single-coloured backgrounds such as yellow and blue. His technique evolves around isolating these shadowed cut outs from his own street photographs to create remote figures which are then edited and placed against digitally generated backgrounds. The collage-like images shed focus on the individuals in them, whilst eliminating interruptions. The colours of his images further grab viewer’s attention, with a distinctive contrast which hints to his home and culture.
Girma’s imagery focuses on the notion of documenting rather than idealising. The people of his work are either adults or children playing around, holding mundane items such as baskets, or pushing wagons; whilst being robed in traditional dresses.The photos thus remain resilient against emotions, exhibiting an actual reality of life.
Girma’s imagery could be described as authentic, contemporary, fresh and minimalistic. He illustrates the sidelined or elderly in his own way; highlighting their significance whilst gathering truths and reflecting details that would otherwise be unobserved.
You can follow Luis Grima Berta on Instagram @gboxcreative
Words: Leen Abu Aisheh