Holes

2014
print / braille-print / text

Text work about the perception of public space and public buildings, taken from an interview with Abebe Mola, a blind person and coordinator of the Blind Institute in Addis Ababa. This interview was made for the project ‘Another Blackout’ as part of the publication ‘Unfold’ (Dutch Art Institute).

During an electricity blackout, a reoccurring problem in Addis Ababa, people with eyesight become vulnerable in public space and tend to go home. A person with visual disabilities feels more comfortable to go outside during the night, when there is less noise of cars and people.

Holes

The streets have holes. There are many in the city of Addis Ababa. Some holes are unexpectedly deep and dangerous, even for those who have sight. They can be taken by surprise if they are not attentive to the unexpected circumstances below their feet (Holes in the pavement are caused by water in the underlying soil and the weight of traffic. There are many in Addis Ababa). On the radio I often hear reports about ordinary people losing their lives because of these holes.

I don’t perceive any light myself, and I lost my memory of colours, but I know a few people who are almost blind and can still see a little bit of light and colour. Often this is more confusing because the light they perceive is not enough to identify things clearly. They can easily mistake a hole for the road.

Public buildings like banks, museums, offices, etc. are often not prepared for people like us. Just a week ago, in an elementary school nearby, a blind man fell all the way down from the fourth floor. I heard he’s in the hospital now. While visiting his child's school, he went up, lost his balance, and stumbled into the void.

Taken from an interview with Abebe Mola, coordinator of the Blind Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4 March 2014.

After Year Zero / Museum of Yugoslav History, curated by Doreen Mende (Dutch Art Institute), Belgrade