Ermias Kifleyesus


Calling old Masters 2019

Calling old masters 2017.jpg

For the past 13 years I have been focusing on a project located in international telephone cabins where I install large pieces of paper or canvas on the walls that over time become covered with marks, notations and traces that individuals record and leave as they pass through the space, talk on the telephones, wait for their calls to connect to and from all points of the globe.  These cabins are the lifelines to people’s distant places, past and future, the containers of present connection. I visit the cabins every week and often collaborate with whatever imagery I find there, finally I remove the supports from the walls when I feel they are ready to complete in my studio. This process takes different amounts of time depending on the location and intensity of the cabin use. 

My work is about investigating connections, transience, meaning, differences and similarities between time and place. These telephone booths are also connected to Internet, video games and fax machines. They are charged with the importance of connection to anywhere and everywhere in the world. The cabin marks are akin to cave paintings, evidence of fact and fiction, conscious and unconscious scribbles, numbers, codes, needs and dreams, each mark is a fragment of recorded life. 

The final works are complex, interwoven with layers of doodles, text and imagery, as well as meanings that hold echoes of absence and presence. The surfaces are dynamic with seemingly infinite varieties of material, even punctured and mended at times. The works are containers of emotion and the very human impulse to leave evidence of unique lives. These traces of people, time and society are my inspirational springboards, they are contemporary interlinked histories honoring urban lives and the infinite connections between the people of the world.