Don’t Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV

Virginia-based director and photographer, Dawit N.M. captures the beauty of daily life in Ethiopia, contrasting the world media’s single story narrative

Dawit’s main motivation for creating this project arose during a portrait session in Ethiopia when his cousin, Fitsum, jokingly told him, “Don’t Make Me Look Like the Kids on TV.” Stunned by Fitsum’s statement Dawit decided then and there that he would compile all the photos he had taken in Ethiopia to show a story most have not seen before. A real story.

Due to the state of emergency (a response to the anti-government protests) that the country was in, Dawit was limited to mostly taking photos outside of taxis or in private areas with just a $10 point-and-shoot film camera. He also only brought four rolls of film. His family warned him that his digital camera might cause unwanted attention, especially from the police. This explains the constant distance that is seen in most of the pictures, an analogy to his relationship with Ethiopia, distant. He would later add old family photos and scans of miscellaneous items.

Weaving new photos together with the old made it seem as if time was never linear. Without knowing it, the project became a personal journey through space and time in Ethiopia; a self-reflection on his life and identity while still contrasting the outdated and awfully misleading images of Ethiopia.

“Till the last couple years of grade school, I dreaded when people asked me where I was from mainly because I knew what was coming. A train of ignorant comments: “isn’t that were all the skinny kids with big heads are,” “are there lions there,” “pot-belly,” “flies” and many more. Little did I realize then that these comments were merely a reflection of their lack of knowledge, rather an attack on Ethiopia and myself. Once I realized that, I started being more vocal about the true identity of Ethiopia and its culture. Later on, I came across film and photography, which made it easier to communicate this with people. My interest in telling stories of the misrepresented finally had a home and that was through art.” - Dawit N.M.

As a publisher and Community Interest Company, TRIP is dedicated to showcasing unconventional stories that may otherwise be overlooked. We aim to give a platform to the unseen and a microphone to the ignored. Expression is a right and should not be confined to those that can afford to work for free; which is why we strive to support a diverse range of creatives in their work, commissioning exciting projects and creatives to visualize them.

Founded as a magazine in 2013 by photographer, Dean Davies, TRIP was born from a desire to provide opportunity and exposure for image-makers across multiple platforms and medias. With a focus on people and place, in 5 years TRIP gained a loyal readership, and became known for its honest image output and representation of the underrepresented, featuring over 800 image-makers from across the world through a website, 5 magazines and 3 free zines.

As TRIP C.I.C. we are not interested in profiting from the activities of the organization, and re-invest all income back in to consecutive publishing projects.

Dean Davies
Alfie Allen

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