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10 July 2021

Naol Befkadu

Stories from the Room, Addis Abeba, Burtukan’s Coffee, 4-Kilo, July 2021

Stories from the Room, Addis Abeba, July 2021

Stories from the Room, Addis Abeba, Lime Tree Cafe, Kazanchis, July 2021

Stories form the Room, Addis Abeba, Enetewawek Cafe, Olympia, July 2021

In 2020 at the brunt of the lockdown Jasphy Zheng, an interdisciplinary artist living between Brooklyn and China, initiated a public art project, “Stories from the Room” exploring new modes of connecting people amidst pandemic induced isolations. Stories from the Room, writes Jasphy, is a participatory long-term project that collects personal writings about the shared experience of living through this “new normal” and builds a living archive that could be reproduced in different localities. An ongoing open call accepts submissions from all over the globe, unrestrained by language, form, or geographic location. In an experiment that pushes the boundaries of traditional archive, Stories from the Room adopts to the contexts of its host city as a living, malleable “Structural Monument”. Thus far, iterations of this project are held in Japan, Australia, China, Serbia, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia.

The latest iteration in Addis Abeba, which began at the end of June 2021 takes an analog form, with writing stations installed in 3 selected cafes across the city. Story submissions were made with handwritten notes and voice recordings. Naol Befkadu who visited the project in Addis writes his reflection in free form, sharing his inner dialogue that unfurls in unexpected directions, from the significance of coffee culture in the city to the current temperament of people living in Addis – suspended between a raging war in the North of the country and a pretense of normalcy by the government. His musings offer an analytical reading of the project, and slowly combs through the ease and discomforts of public interactions in the current climate.

Stories from the Room, Addis Abeba is presented by As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future together with Curtain project by Rockbund Art Museum and Contemporary nights. This edition took place between June 29 – July 5 in 3 Cafes, Burtukan’s Coffee in 4 kilo, Lime Tree in Kazanchis, and Enetewawek Cafe in Bole Olympia.

Naol Befkadu, MD, is a physician based in Addis Ababa.
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