Image of artwork titled "Breaking News!" by Ezra Wube
Image of artwork titled "Breaking News!" by Ezra Wube
Image of artwork titled "Breaking News!" by Ezra Wube

Ezra Wube, Breaking News!, 2022
Acrylic on cotton mattress cover mounted to bed frame
75 × 40 × 8.5 inches

“Breaking News!” is one in a series of new acrylic on cotton mattress cover paintings attached to metal bed frames by the artist, which will be making their debut at the fair. In these works Wube — a New York-based artist born in Ethiopia — contends with issues of displacement and the recent War in Ethiopia, as well as the role of the news media in people’s perception and understanding of the events in his homeland. Imagery depicting the war as portrayed by the media in its news cycles or social media posts is painted by the artist onto common Ethiopian mattress fabrics upon which, Wube says, “millions literally dream every night.” The fabric is stretched across a bed frame that stands upright against a wall, making the underside, the traditional pattern of the sheet, viewable as well when seen from other angles.

“Breaking News!” is dominated by the large words “dream, gone, gone” in the Amharic language that are borrowed from a 1988 song by the Ethiopian singer Tewodros Tadesse. The lyrics were written at a time when earlier promises of prosperity by the governing regime had proven unrealistic. The artist remarks that “producing politically challenging music was unthinkable, however artists used romance songs to metaphorically suggest their views.” On the black and white rays shot by flying drones, appear various logos of both local and international media outlets, as well as smoke and confetti referencing the spectacular nature of the event. 5-star ratings are depicted throughout the painting’s surface.

“Heightened by the opinions of various national and international media outlets, unbiased information on the conflict seemed unobtainable. The paintings are constructed using a twin-bed format to connect a collective experience to an individual one. The mattress fabrics used as the surface of the paintings are common throughout Ethiopia, and their patterns are easily recognized by many. […} On these mattresses millions spend one-third of their lives, accompanying them through the cycle of life, birth, death, dreams…”— Ezra Wube



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