Meet this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition photographer

Photo: Moustafa Cheaiteli

Meet Aïda Muluneh, the acclaimed artist who produced an exclusive photo series for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize exhibition.

PublishedNov 24, 2020
AuthorIngvill Bryn Rambøl

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Bright primary colors, women with body paint and colorful costumes. Aida Muluneh has made it her trade mark to picture a different Africa by combining the traditional with the modernistic. She was born in Ethiopia, grew up in Yemen, moved to Canada and worked as a photo journalist in Washington Post. As exhibiting artist, her work has been shown at MOMA in New York, Smithsonian’s in Washington and in South Africa, Mali, France, and China. In October, she was commissioned by the Nobel Peace Center to create a photo essay for the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition 2020. The Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Porgramme had just been announced, and Aida Muluneh set out to illustrate how food and hunger is being used as a strategic weapon in war and conflict. The photos have been shot in Aida’s studio in Abidjan during a couple of busy weeks in November. 

“I look at my work in the same way as a film maker”, says Muluneh, who has her degree in film making. “I start with a sketch and choose the colors and the design. And then I look for that magic moment where all the pieces fit together.”

Photo: © Aida Muluneh for the Nobel Peace Center

The ten photos in the exhibition represent ten countries and ten conflicts where hunger has been used as a weapon. There is Vietnam (see photo), where burning and destroying crops was part of the strategy the US used to weaken the Viet Cong. There is Yemen, where the ongoing civil war has led to the worst humanitarian catastrophe in our time, and millions of people are facing famine. And there is Nazi Germany, where hunger was seen as an efficient way of implementing Holocaust. 

“Each frame is a story, a story deeply embedded with moments, emotions, pain, loneliness, rage and the deep sadness that becomes the plight of those caught between the crossfires of political agendas”, the artist says. Her thoughts are with the mothers who witness the death of their children and the young people who see their lives and futures destroyed. 

"This is why I state that we must question the future of our humanity, and the fact that even with all the technological advancements, we have not managed to alleviate suffering."
Aida Muluneh

Aida Muluneh’s photo essay will be shown in digital version on the Nobel Peace Center’s website and on nrk.no from 10 December. The Nobel Peace Prize exhibition 2020 will be opened at the Nobel Peace Center 12 December, or when Covid-19 restrictions allow.  

The exhibition is supported by Yara International (Nobel Peace Prize Celebration Partner 2020).

The exhibition is supported by Canon (print partner).

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