The Return of the Axum Obelisk (short version) is a condensed, single-channel version of artist Theo Eshetu’s fifteen-monitor video installation. It charts the 2003–8 return of the obelisk of Axum to Ethiopia seventy years after it was confiscated in the Italian Invasion and relocated to Rome. Built in the third century, the obelisk is a relic of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum, Ethiopia’s pre-Christian civilization. Referencing the narrative frames of traditional Ethiopian painting, the video’s formal arrangement is marked by repetitions and time shifts.
Working across installation, video, and television, Theo Eshetu explores the expressive capabilities of the medium of video and the manipulation of the language of television. Exploring themes and imagery from anthropology, art history, scientific research, and religious iconography, his work explores how electronic media shapes identity and perception.