Elias Sime is a multi-disciplinary artist working primarily in relief sculpture and architecture. His collage and sculptural assemblage are made from found objects such as thread, buttons and animal skins, alongside organic building materials and binding agents such as mud and straw. Many of the objects come from Mercato, the Addis Ababa open-air market said to be the largest in Africa, and in particular the market’s Menalesh Tera section, where refuse is repurposed in resourceful ways.
Sime’s work achieves effects from dense narrative to austere modernist abstraction. The artist resists the collagist’s shorthand of using discarded objects as traces or poetic stand-ins for human feelings or individual lives, favouring instead the sense of piecing together a larger societal narrative. Sime’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Perez Museum of Art, Miami; North Dakota Museum of Art; Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville; Hood Museum of Art, Hanover; among others.