University of Arizona
College of Fine Arts - School of Art

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Tehan Ketema

ንመንከስቲ ጻዕዳ ተመን መድሃኒት የብሉን

No Medicine for the Bite of a White Snake

In the 19th century, an idiom emerged to speak to the indigenous resistance of colonial powers in Eritrea. No Medicine for the Bite of a White Snake is an installation that reflects on this idiom and collaborates with a found archive on social media to contemplate authoritative historical narratives, American’s complex romanticized notions of the “foreign”, and contemporary methods of engagement with digital platforms.

The identified archive is an online forum intended to connect veterans and their families who were stationed at a former U.S. military base in Asmara, Eritrea during the 1940s – 1970s. This non-traditional living archive offers conversations, storytelling, photographs, and videos, forming the personal narratives and memories that this work explores. US occupation functions as the central figure of the work while I perform as the archivist. The installation comprises new textual and visual iterations through video, etching, and print.

As a first-generation Eritrean American, I’m compelled to generate work that questions the relationship and interconnected experiences between the United States and Eritrea. This work aims to reclaim and validate Eritrean subjectivity, refuse the hegemonic gaze of the Western/Eurocentric perspective, and interrogate the legibility of language and its translations.

Multimedia Installation

MFA 2022