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Red Leaves

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artwork on wall

Red Leaves, 2021

Electrical wires and circuit boards | 81" x 237" x 7”
Location: Living Room | Installed January 2023

“I make my art with freedom, and I want viewers to freely interpret them from their own points of view.”

In his monumental and modular wall sculptures, Elias Sime transforms the technological detritus of our everyday lives into lyrical abstract compositions that evoke topographies, figuration and color fields. The eponymous red leaves levitate off the surface, and the viewer’s eye jumps and undulates, rising and falling, across the dimensional grid of the work. Sime’s process is inspired by the ancient weaving practices and building rituals of his native Ethiopia. He carefully selects salvaged electronic components, including circuit boards, computer keys and telecommunications wires, and then deftly braids and assembles thousands of them together in captivating patterns and colors. By combining the traditional and the technological, he explores the tenuousness of our interconnected world and alludes to the frictions between tradition and progress, human contact and social networks, nature and machine-made, and the physical and the virtual. In Red Leaves, which debuted at the 59th Venice Biennale, Sime crafts a story of transformation. References to the visual and tactile weaving traditions of the past merge with obsolete, quotidian materials of our current era and speak to the global impacts of technology on both the social order and environment. Sime’s practice pushes the boundaries of sculpture as a medium and invites viewers in to reflect on the possibilities of material. 

a men standing slightly sideways and smiling
Image courtesy James Cohan Gallery, photo by Brett Moen

About the artist 

Elias Sime b. 1968,  Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Elias Sime deftly weaves, layers and assembles carefully selected everyday materials, transforming commonplace items into lyrical abstract compositions that suggest topography, figuration, and color fields. He often creates intricate works from electronic components—including circuit boards, computer keys, and telecommunications wires. For Sime, the history of these materials hold meaning and their significance emerges after thorough consideration. They suggest the tenuousness of our interconnected world, alluding to the frictions between tradition and progress, human contact and social networks, nature and the man-made, and physical presence and the virtual.