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July 2017, English/German
16.6×23.7 cm, 128 pages, 100 color ill., softcover
ISBN 978-3-95679-341-7
Andreas Koch
Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD

The Body Electric is the first comprehensive survey of video artist and filmmaker Theo Eshetu’s extensive body of work. Eshetu examines the imagery of the collective unconscious, exploring cultural identity and challenging official media narratives through a complex interplay of signs and symbols. Throughout his prolific career, spanning over thirty-five years, he has created a distinctive poetic visual vocabulary using abstract rhythmic montage and hypnotic syncopated collages of images to create experimental films. Both philosophical and whimsically playful, Eshetu’s videos possess a dreamlike quality in which gestures, fragmented actions, and the mirroring and multiplying of images into kaleidoscopic patterns question the very reality of what an image can reveal.


This publication provides an in-depth exploration of Eshetu’s engagement with a variety of genres and media, including experimental cinema, essay and documentary films, large-scale video installations, and live performances. Alongside documentation of his work, this book provides a critical contextualization of Eshetu’s practice since the late 1970s: video-art historian Wulf Herzogenrath engages with Eshetu’s early work in the context of experimental video making in the 1980s; writer and curator David Elliot provides an in-depth analysis of three of Eshetu’s feature-length films; curator Okwui Enwezor talks to Eshetu about the role of music, montage, and the representation of Africa in his films; and Monika Szewczyk provides a commentary on his work for documenta 14, Atlas Fractured (2017).