Groundbreaking upon its release in 1987, Till Death Us Do Part is a 20-screen video-wall installation made by British/Ethiopian artist Theo Eshetu. Interwoven throughout the piece are five episodic segments inspired by various rituals (in particular, those of the Nuba), which are used by the artist as a metaphor to explore the potentials of video art. In these early works – produced between 1982 and 1986 – Eshetu delves into his African background to discover and define his aesthetic voice.
This cutting-edge artwork was initially displayed on a prototype video wall in 1985, before being expanded and presented at the Massimo Riposati Gallery in Rome. It then began a world tour as part of the highly acclaimed exhibition, The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger. However, an unexpected internal dispute – caused by the disruptive presence of the work in an exhibition centred around paintings – put an abrupt halt to this ambitious touring show and Till Death Us Do Part would not be seen again.
That is until 30 years later, when it was rediscovered for an exhibition at Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth, and the damaged analogue tapes were digitally restored to their former glory. The video installation is now preserved in the collections of the MoMA, where it has been on show since 2020.
This publication provides background information and offers invaluable insight into the multilayered aspects of this complex work, with contributions by Simon Njami, Hannah C Jones, kara lynch, Bea Gassmann de Sousa and Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi.
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