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The exchange is a project that i developed during my residency with South South Media Lab that conducted by Ice Bauhauss, Berlin. Coffee is one of the most important beverages in the world, and Ethiopia is where coffee was found. They have their own coffee culture in the form of coffee ceremony; this ceremony is about sharing, listening to each other, and also to reflect. Coffee brings people together everywhere for example in Indonesia term “ngopi” that originally means to drink coffee now has changed into another meaning that means hang out, sitting together, have a chat, even though sometimes coffee is not involved during that meeting. In Sweden they have fika time which is really important for Swedish, this is the time for peoples to sit down and talk about many things.

Speaking about Ethiopia I was wondering what Indonesians think when they hear the word “Ethiopia”. So, before I left I did small research by asking peoples on social media and using google form about this question. The result is interesting the highest is hunger and povery, iwan fals Indonesian singer who wrote a song titled Ethiopia about the world hunger, dry and hot, and the last one is coffee mostly the one who answered this is from the coffee lovers. I can see that most of peoples in Indonesia are still stucked in the idea or informations about Ethiopia in the 80’s. There are negatives images of Ethiopia in most Indonesians. I see how media can shape the image of a country and then it leads into some policy locally and internationally that is not based on facts but based on certain interests. I see this is not only the problem in Ethiopia but also most of the other country especially global south countries including Indonesia. These countries somehow being branded as dangerous, low economy, so many pollutions based on the western standard. I see by understanding the coffee culture in Addis Ababa that exist in all layers of society I can learn about the true and facts about Ethiopia. 

Addis Ababa is one of the fastest growing city in Africa because somehow they are being pressured as the capital of the African countries so they need to be in the lead in most of the important aspect such as economy, development, tech, etc. The city always under construction, we can see around Addis we can see cranes and constructions sites most of it builds by the Chinese company. Addis are going to a new direction that also in the other hand will sacrifice some values within the society. Coffee culture is one of the important value in Ethiopia, so my question “is coffee ceremony still important in Addis today?” when peoples are getting busier and busier to work then the street coffee seller switched to coffee machine to reduce the time. Or the values are adjusting into new values that will fit the new Addis.

This questions leads me into my journey around Addis helped by locals Mole he is an unemployment that I met in front of the National Gallery. He can speaks English, Italian, Germans and also other local language in Ethiopia. He took me around to experience the coffee ceremony in many different places such as Merkato the largest market in Africa, Shiromeda, Stadium, Bole, etc. During this project I develop one artwork “The Exchange”. This project is when I took picture of strangers using instant camera on the street of Addis and give them the picture so they will have a memento from our meeting. I found that i can use instant photo as a new currency for trading. Ethiopians are really sensitive toward camera that bring by the faranji (white foreigner) because of the over exposure of Ethiopia by journalism in the 90’s. This bring peoples in Addis are easily to ask money for a picture. This exchange took me into another level of trust and i managed to take 300 photos and many stories during my stay from different part of Addis Ababa. I am creating a video interview and also plan to put the photos into a photo book.

About my questions “is coffee ceremony still important in Addis today?” i see that the cost of being modern nowadays is expensive and somehow we can’t run away from it. What we can do is to keep remember the values and the experience so we can still pass the values into the next generations.  There is a possibility that the value will adapt into a modern way of living. This is not only for Ethiopia but also for Indonesia who faced the same thing and all the other countries who struggled to adapt with modernity and at the same time facing the risk of loosing some of their values.