A native of Ethiopia (b. 1972), Betelhem Makonnen currently lives and works in Austin, Texas. Her formal education comprises of an MFA (2019) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a New Artists Society Merit Scholar; graduate coursework in Painting, Time-based media, and Modern and Contemporary Art History (2010 – 2013) at the School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage (EAV), Rio de Janeiro; and a B.A (1995), History and Literature of the African Diaspora from University of Texas in Austin.

In addition to her artistic praxis, she is a curator at Fusebox Festival, an annual art and contemporary performance arts festival, and co-editor of the online arts periodical Written & Spoken. She is also a co-founder of the Austin-based contemporary arts collaborative Black Mountain Project.

Personal Statement

Working with a variety of mediums that include video, photography and installations, I research questions on perception, presence and place within a trans-temporal and trans-locative topology that operates on the relational dynamics of a diasporic consciousness. A meandering trajectory of seemingly disparate interests and divergent paths provides the experimental blending of anthropological, historical (both personal and collective), and philosophic interests that form the necessary inputs for the development of the conceptual foundation of my practice.

With unfixed and dis-identified forms/figures as points of departure, my works activate the in-between spaces created in paradoxes, feedback loops and sites of connection. My work seeks to subvert our sensory vocabulary through strategies of re-combinations and re-configuration, creating fugitive perceptual experiences that possibly open new ways of making sense.

My praxis proposes that (f)utility exercises potentialize impossible futures.

Recent Exhibitions And Screenings (Solo & Two Person Shows Marked By *)

2019 constant escape – George Washington Carver Museum, Austin, TX

2019 UNESCO Media Arts Exhibition at SXSW 2019, w/ Adrian Aguilera, Austin, TX

2019 Intersections, Presa House Gallery, San Antonio, TX

2019 SoundSpace Word/Matter, w/ Adrian Aguilera, The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX

2018 Selfie Gauntlet, w/ Adrian Aguilera, Museum of Human Achievement, Austin, TX

2018 TEMPO Convergence EAST, Art In Public Places, w/ Adrian Aguilera, Austin, TX

2018 Staycation THRESHOLDS , MASS Gallery, Austin, TX

2018 TEMPO 2018 , w/Adrian Aguilera Austin Art in Public Places, Austin, TX

2018 VIDEO ART FROM AFRICA, Depart Foundation, Los Angeles, CA

2017 Natural 20, w/Adrian Aguilera, Tiger Strikes LA and Montevista Projects, Los Angeles, CA

2017 Boundless, w/ Adrian Aguilera, Central Features Gallery, Albuquerque, NM

2017 From Eden to Oblivion, ICOSA Collective Gallery, Austin, TX

2017 yo soy aquí - i am here * w/Adrian Aguilera, ICOSA Collective Gallery, Austin, TX

2016 ኣለማየሁ I Saw the World * Pump Projects, Austin, TX

2016 The Contemporary Crit- Group 2016 Show grayDUCK Gallery, Austin, TX

2016 1ª edição do VIDEOARTE CLUBE, Espaço Olho da Rua, Rio de Janeiro

2016 V edition of XXX Fuori Festival, Pesaro, Italy

2016 IVAHM Festival, Madrid, Spain

2016 ICOSA Part 1 ICOSA Gallery, Austin, TX

2016 Invisible Intersections, The African American Cultural Heritage Facility, Austin, TX

2016 12th annual People's Gallery Exhibition, Austin City Hall, TX

2015 Grounded in Movement Addis Video Art Festival, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

2015 ICOSA Collective Inaugural Exhibition ICOSA Collective Gallery, Austin, TX

2015 TRIO Bienal Memorial Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro

2015 Se-Liga Expo, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro

2014 Ilusões, a mostra, Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro

2014 CentiArt VideoNomad II, DakArt Off, Senegal

2014 Hipersônica Screening FILE 2014, FIESP Centro Cultural, São Paulo

2014 ABRE ALAS 10 Gallery A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro

2014 PRIX VIDEOFORMES 2014, Clermont-Ferrand, France

2013 XIII Salão Nacional de Artes Itajaí (SNAI), Itajaí, Santa Catarina

2013 Intermission: Audio portraits of place, Lisbon, Portugal

2013 Coletiva EAV 2013, Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro

2013 FILE 2013, FIESP Centro Cultural, São Paulo

2013 Grito dos 9, Largo das Artes, Rio de Janeiro

2013 4 Salão dos Artistas sem Galeria, Galeria Zipper e Casa da Xiclet, São Paulo

2012 "Experiência Pintura", Escola Artes Visuais, Rio de Janeiro

Curatorial Work

2019 BRIM Vladimir Mejia Black Mountain Project, Austin, TX

2019, 2017, 2015 Addis Video Art Festival Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2019, 2018 Fusebox Festival Austin, TX

2016 Bread and Butter ICOSA Gallery, Austin

Other Engagements

2019 Filled to the BRIM: Burying Depression in Abstraction A Panel Discussion – Museum of Human Achievement

2018 Blanton Museum of Art Gallery Talk – Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design – Austin, Texas

On the Boards Curatorial Lecture Series – Seattle, WA

Creative Standard Professional Arts Summit 2018 – Austin, TX

2017 Teen Convening National Program, The Contemporary Austin - Austin, TX

Fusebox Community Café: Prototype developed through an inter-generational research project guided by local artists – ICOSA Collective Gallery – Austin, TX

ỌWỌ́: Perspectives on Photography - The Center for Art of Africa and its Diasporas - UT Austin

2016 Displacement: Imagining New Models for Growth - Panel Discussion The National Performance Network Annual Meeting 2016 – Austin, Texas

The Contemporary Austin Crit Group – Austin,TX

My Barbarian’s Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (PoLAAT)! residency and workshop - Austin, TX

Invisible Intersections: Portraits of a Neighborhood in Transition – George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center – Austin, TX

2015 The Contemporary Austin Teen Artists + Mentor Program – Austin, TX