Obsidian Arts offers “Five by Five”

The phrase “five by five” comes from an old radio communications term that means “loud and clear.” So it’s a fitting title for the latest exhibition at Obsidian Arts in Minneapolis.

The show “Five by Five” features bold work by five photographers of African descent. They were asked to capture the essence of their individual communities in just five images.

The below photograph of a woman in an Ethiopian market was captured by Getachew Irko, whose professional work has been featured in everything from the in-flight magazine for Ethiopian Airlines to an emergency preparedness documentary for the United Nations.

Getachew Irko

Getachew Irko hails from Ethiopia and now lives in St. Paul. His work focuses on the nuances of his homeland. That desire to provide unique insights into African communities is what seems to drive all of the photographers in the “Five by Five” show.

Obsidian Arts Curator Roderic Southall says one of the goals of the exhibit is to shatter the idea that Africa is some singular, fused culture. He hopes visitors will “take time to recognize the absence of consistency in the actions, objects, and energies amongst the five blocks of work.”

In this exhibition, artists represent a broader, but more personal view of their homelands. The below photo, for example, evokes Liberian-born, Minneapolis-based photographer Tarnue Jallah’s vision of the Liberian border.

Tarnue Jallah

Curator Roderic Southall hopes the exhibition showcases the “specific cultural and national distinctions” that make up Africa. “It is vital that people toss aside a history of thinking about Africa as some composite whole.”

Along those lines, the small exhibition is wide-ranging, with little consistency between the different artists’ images. They all bring their individual views of their individual cultures.

Photographer Mohamed Barre was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. These days he documents the lives of Somali refugees and immigrants in the Twin Cities. The below image, two Somali girls in Hannah Montana t-shirts, is just one example of an evolving community

Mohamed Barre

“Five in Five” is on display at Obsidian Arts through June 30, 2013. And it’s free.