The Return of the Axum Obelisk

Artist: Theo Eshetu
installation, video | 15 CRT monitor video installation | 2009

The 25 metre, 160 tonne, third century stele obelisk was carried from Axum to Rome as a war trophy in 1935 by the Italian army, and returned to Ethiopia in 2008. Its dismantling, transportation, and re-installation is seen in this work as a ritual ceremony of transformation. Inspired by narrative paintings about the Queen of Sheba central to Ethiopia’s origin myth, the technical complexity of this work echoes the engineering feat of the obelisk’s reinstatement.


11th Shanghai Biennale - WHY NOT ASK AGAIN | 2016.11.11 - 2017.03.12 | Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum(Shanghai, China)