"My main goal in building this collection is to address the issues caused by a lack of access to clean water, and the impact that has not only on a society as a whole, but on women, particularly in rural regions."
Internationally acclaimed artist Aida Muluneh has presented her extraordinary 'Water Life' series.
The new series features 12 striking pieces commissioned by WaterAid with support from the H&M Foundation, and was shot in the extreme landscape of one of the hottest and driest places on earth, Dallol, Afar, in Northern Ethiopia.
The powerful Afrofuturist artwork responds to the urgent issue of a lack of access to clean water which has a devastating impact on the lives of women and girls.
Globally, one in ten people have no clean water close to home and one in four don't have a decent toilet, causing diarrheal diseases that claim the lives of a child every two
minutes. In Aida Muluneh's native country, Ethiopia, the figures are stark, with almost six in ten people being denied access to clean water, despite the significant progress made over the past 20 years.
Muluneh herself, while living in Ethiopia, has encountered streams of women traveling on foot and carrying heavy burdens of water. Her images express these harsh daily realities, which affect not only women's progress but also the futures of their communities.
Taking inspiration from traditional ornamentation and body paint from across the African continent, the Ethiopian-born artist has explored not just issues of water scarcity and ecological emergency but also the vital role of art in advocacy and how Africa is represented in global media.
Commenting on her new series, Aida Muluneh said: "My main goal in building this collection is to address the issues caused by a lack of access to clean water, and the impact that has not only on a society as a whole, but on women, particularly in rural regions. We cannot refute that it is mainly women who bear responsibility for collecting water, a burden that has great consequences for our future and the development of our nation. My focus in this project was to address these topics without the cliché that we see in mainstream media. In a sense, to advocate through art."
Aida Muluneh was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1974 where she currently lives. Aida left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1985. In 2000, she graduated with a degree from the Communication Dept with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington D.C. After graduation, she worked as a journalist at the Washington Post.
Muluneh has been a jury member on several prominent photography competitions most notably the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 and the World Press Photo Contest 2017. In 2018 she showed "Being: New Photography 2018" at MOMA NY. She is the Founder and Director of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa hosted since 2010 in the city of Addis Ababa. She continues to educate, curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA in Ethiopia.