Maheder Haileselassie, a self-taught visual artist based in Addis Ababa, has emerged as a standout winner in the world of photography. She recently clinched the prestigious Contemporary African Photography (CAP) prize for 2023, making her mark alongside four other talented artists. Maheder, also the founder of the Center for Photography in Ethiopia, expressed her joy and anticipation for this international recognition's prospects.
In her award-winning photography project titled "Between Yesterday and Tomorrow," Maheder delves into the realms of memories and history. Combining personal and collective recollections from Ethiopian history, she masterfully weaves a captivating narrative. Her project incorporates three distinct types of photos: her own captured images, archival documents from the 19th century created by Europeans in Ethiopia, and pictures from family photo albums. As she eloquently explains, Maheder's work revolves around the themes of Archives, History, and Memories.
"This acts as a metaphor for the overlapping of time and space in one's memory, speaking to our nostalgia while acknowledging the involvement of the Western world in our history,"Maheder elucidates.
Her project explores the initial longing for the presence of her ancestors, followed by a surge of melancholy encompassing the complex and contested future awaiting her generation of Ethiopians.
Maheder's artistic achievements extend beyond her recent CAP prize win. Her works have graced the exhibitions of various festivals and fairs worldwide, earning her widespread acclaim. Moreover, she has gained significant experience reporting on social, political, and environmental issues for multiple NGOs, cultural centers, and esteemed news outlets such as AFP and Reuters.
In addition to the CAP prize, Maheder has achieved further recognition within the photography community. She has been shortlisted for esteemed awards like the Grand Prix Images Vevey 2023/24 and the Phmuesum grant, solidifying her position as an artist to watch. She displays her and others' artistic works at Tikimit Addis, a permanent gallery she has founded.
Among the other exceptional talents honored with the 12th CAP prize in 2023 were Nadia Ettwein from South Africa, Yassmine Forte based in Mozambique, Carlos Idun-Tawiah of Ghana, and Leonard Pongo of Congo DR. The CAP Prize, awarded annually since 2012, serves as an international platform for celebrating and promoting contemporary African photography. It recognizes photographers whose works were created on the African continent or delve into the African diaspora, showcasing the diverse and vibrant narratives of the region.