• Elias Sime, Tightrope: The Dominant, 2017, reclaimed insulated wire on panel, 109 ¾ x 142 ½ inches.
    Collection of Erica Tennenbaum and Alex Friedman, New York. © Elias Sime. Photo: Phoebe d'Heurle

    Elias Sime, Tightrope: The Dominant, 2017, reclaimed insulated wire on panel, 109 ¾ x 142 ½ inches.
    Collection of Erica Tennenbaum and Alex Friedman, New York. © Elias Sime. Photo: Phoebe d'Heurle

  • Elias Sime, Tightrope: Surface and Shadow 2, 2016, reclaimed electronic components and buttons on panel, 108 ⅝ x 204 ⅝ inches. 
    Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio. © Elias Sime. Photo: Brian Pinkley

    Elias Sime, Tightrope: Surface and Shadow 2, 2016, reclaimed electronic components and buttons on panel, 108 ⅝ x 204 ⅝ inches. 
    Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio. © Elias Sime. Photo: Brian Pinkley

  • Elias Sime, Tightrope: On the Edge, 2015, reclaimed electronic components on eight panels, 48 x 258 ¾ inches. 
    Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection,
    Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the William T. Kemper Charitable Trust, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee, 2016.02.01. 
    © Elias Sime, courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2019

    Elias Sime, Tightrope: On the Edge, 2015, reclaimed electronic components on eight panels, 48 x 258 ¾ inches. 
    Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection,
    Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the William T. Kemper Charitable Trust, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee, 2016.02.01. 
    © Elias Sime, courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2019

  • Elias Sime, Tightrope 3, 2009–14, reclaimed electronic components and fiberglass on panel, 81 ½ x 195 inches. 
    Private collection, New York. © Elias Sime. Photo: Adam Reich Photography

    Elias Sime, Tightrope 3, 2009–14, reclaimed electronic components and fiberglass on panel, 81 ½ x 195 inches. 
    Private collection, New York. © Elias Sime. Photo: Adam Reich Photography

  • Elias Sime, Tightrope: Behind the Beauty, 2017, reclaimed insulated wire on panel, 91 ¼ x 127 ¼ inches. 
    Collection of Scott Mueller, Cleveland, Ohio. © Elias Sime. Photo: Phoebe d'Heurle

    Elias Sime, Tightrope: Behind the Beauty, 2017, reclaimed insulated wire on panel, 91 ¼ x 127 ¼ inches. 
    Collection of Scott Mueller, Cleveland, Ohio. © Elias Sime. Photo: Phoebe d'Heurle

Elias Sime: Tightrope

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 to Sunday, January 31, 2021
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The first major museum exhibition to focus on the work of contemporary artist Elias Sime (Ethiopian, born 1968), Tightrope features more than two dozen works of art in varying scales and showcases brightly-colored tableaux and sculptural assemblages rooted in both the figurative and abstract modes of modern Ethiopian art.

Sime repurposes salvaged electronic components such as circuits and keyboards in his work to explore the precarious balance between the progress that technology has made possible and its detrimental impact on the global environment. The exhibition explores how devices intended to connect us have instead mediated our interactions while simultaneously creating massive amounts of e-waste. Sime’s work—like topographical maps or aerial perspectives of vast landscapes—also points to the natural pathways existing in the environment, revealing that the organic fibers which connect us are not unlike the inner workings of man-made machines. Deconstructing them can expose and demystify their internal dynamics, allowing for a new lyricism and energy to emerge.

Elias Sime: Tightrope is organized by the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, and will travel to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

Lead Sponsor
The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Commerce Bank, Trustee

Sustaining Sponsors
Stephen and Barbara Abend
Copaken Family Fund
Norm Fretwell and Bev Haskins
Morgenthaler Family Foundation


Learn more about this exhibition on the Kemper Museum smartphone app, available at: kemperart.org/app.

Google Arts & Culture: Elias Sime

Click here to view the "Elias Sime: Tightrope" Google Arts & Culture online experience.

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Exhibition Catalogue

Elias Sime: Tightrope is accompanied by the first monograph focusing on the work of Elias Sime and features contributions by Tracy L. Adler, Meskerem Assegued, Karen E. Milbourne, and Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi.

This book is co-published by the Wellin Museum of Art and Delmonico Books • Prestel.

Product Dimensions: 10 x 11 x .25 inches, 192 Pages, Hardcover, Language: English | $60.00

Click here for more information.

About the Artist

Elias Sime (Ethiopian, born 1968) graduated in graphic art from Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art and Design in 1990. His first major solo traveling museum exhibition debuted in 2019, organized by the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, New York and will travel to the Akron Art Museum, Ohio; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; and Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. His work has also been featured in solo exhibitions with James Cohan Gallery (2019); British Council, Goethe-Institute, Italian Cultural Institute and Alliance Ethiofrancaise, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2013); and North Dakota Museum of Art (2012). Select group exhibitions featuring Sime’s work have been at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2016); The Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California (2010); Haunch of Venison, London (2009); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008). Sime’s works can be found in the collections of Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, New York; Akron Art Museum, Ohio; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina; North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, North Dakota; Perez Art Museum, Miami, Florida. As an extension of his art-making, Sime is involved in the exploration of vernacular architecture. Working with his longtime collaborator, Assegued, Sime co-founded, designed, and built the award-winning Zoma Museum in Addis Ababa, an environmentally conscious international art center described by The New York Times in 2009 as “a voluptuous dream, a swirl of ancient technique and ecstatic imagination.”