conjugating perception

conjugating perception is a body of work of experimental photographic auto-portraiture compositions as well as high definition video. The works in conjugating perception are structured through a perceptual vocabulary that prioritize combination and simultaneity over withdrawal and elimination. By activating contact, exchange and mobility between different complexes - temporal, spacial, and psychological - these works are an inquiry into relationality as a methodology to create newly imagined forms of self-representation.

Approaching image making by way of conversing with photography's long legacy of misrepresentation of raced and sexed bodies, its disenfranchising frame, and congenitally diseased gaze, conjugating perception invites the viewer to peer deeper into the psychologies of identity politics and the problematics of binary language in our cultural context. In conjugating perception auto- portraiture is performed within a fugitive image plane where a predicated self retains the agency to inhabit states of transition that challenge seeing habits and...


constant escape

  • George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center
  • March 7, 2019 - July 27, 2019

Founding members of the Austin based Black Mountain Project Adrian Aguilera, Betelhem Makonnen, and Tammie Rubin will debut a new body of work in sculpture, photography, text, and video. Their works reject and resist the confining limitations of authority and absolute definition of identity, cultural background and of who we are as a people. Each artist in their individual exhibited works approaches their practice in markedly different ways. What the artists share is a commitment to making work that is not easily labelled, and asks questions about the world around us, and how we see ourselves. The concept for this exhibition is inspired by text from Fred Moten’s, Black and Blur (Duke University Press, 2017).



UNESCO Media Arts Exhibition at SXSW 2019

  • Austin Central Library - Austin, TX
  • March 2019

The UNESCO Media Arts Exhibition at SXSW, hosted within the 3,000 square foot gallery at the City of Austin Central Library, will feature installations by by artists from Austin and other UNESCO Creative Cities whose work explores the intersection of art and technology.

Exhibiting Artists:

  • Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen (Austin)
  • Shawn Camp (Austin)
  • Dadageek: Lisa Woods, Barna Kantor and Jerome Martinez (Austin)
  • Sonya Gonzalez (Austin)
  • OSSMO: Cesar Axel Aguilar Rodriquez, Carlos Andres Zenteno Pineda and Jorge Armando Vargas Bravo (Guadalajara, Mexico)
  • Steven Parker (Austin)
  • qujOchÖ: Thomas Philipp, Davide Bevilacqua and Eva Maria Dreisiebner (Linz, Austria)
  • Scenocosme: Gregory Lasserre & Anais met den Ancxt (Lyon, France)
  • Mila Sketch (Austin)

untitled (meanwhile II, web 3.0) proposes a break from the overwhelming spectacle that has...


SoundSpace: Word/Play

  • Blanton Museum of Art – Austin, TX
  • Performance February 2019
    Bringing to light a 1978 text by the radical Latin American journalist/poet/thinker Eduardo Galeano, written in a context of dictatorship, censorship, and wanton abuse of Indigenous peoples, in defense of the wor(l)d (a través de Galeano) visualizes his still relevant call for a different wor(l)d, a wor(l)d deserving to be what the wor(l)d wanted to be when it was a different wor(l)d, a wor(l)d deserving to be what the wor(l)d wanted to be when it was not yet born.
  • "History never really says goodbye, history says, 'See you later.'" Eduardo Galeano
  • in defense of the wor(l)d (a través de Galeano), 2019
  • Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen
  • performance piece for three 35mm slides projectors
  • Press
  • ...

TEMPO | TEMPO Convergence East Austin Studio Tour 2018

  • St. John Branch Library, September 11 – November 7, 2018
  • Edward Rendon Sr. Park, November 10 – 18, 2018
  • An initiative of the Art in Public Places Program, TEMPO brings temporary public artwork to sites throughout Austin to enrich civic dialogue, cultivate tourism, and activate public spaces in unexpected ways. The annual program commissions artists to create installations in a range of media that explore themes suitable for the outdoor environment. Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen's proposal untitled (these united states) was selected for installation at the St. John Branch Library, City Council district 4.
  • "What is a flag? Is a flag capable of representing an ongoing state of becoming? Can a symbol of conquest and conformity be reconsidered as an emblem for inclusion and connection?"

untitled (these united states) emerges from the continuing collaboration between artists Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen. The concepts behind this new work operate within and...


allographic translation

  • Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg, TX
  • November 2017

Durational rock interviews using graphite on rolls of acetate for recording, a collaborative project of Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen.

  • "… those enormous expanses of silence in which my history became lost."
  • Édouard Glissant, Poetic Intention

Enchanted Rock, an inselberg (or monadnock) is an isolated hill, knob, ridge, outcrop, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. A granite formation from the Precambrian age, it’s the state’s largest mountain made of a single rock, and it is among the oldest exposed rocks in North America. Enchanted Rock is also known as “Spirit Song Rock” in indigenous legends. Revered as a holy portal to other worlds, it is said that anyone spending the night on the rock becomes invisible.

  • ...

yo soy aquí / i am here

  • ICOSA Collective Gallery, Austin, Texas
  • September 23 - October 29, 2017

yo soy aquí / i am here is a collaborative exhibition that is the result of a nine-month conversation between the artists Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen . Deliberately playing with the Spanish language’s distinction between estar and ser as different understandings of the verb “to be”, Aguilera and Makonnen present works in collage, objects, video, and multimedia installation that propose an ontological, as well as a spatial exploration of our relationship to here (space + time).

In their exhibition yo soy aquí / i am here, Aguilera and Makonnen appropriate NASA images in order to connect what was originally meant as omnipotent documentation of our planet to a more holistic view of our “Spaceship Earth”, reminding us that we are all fellow passengers on this spinning rock, swinging through the solar system on a spiral arm of the Milky Way as it hurls through a starry universe. Pulling from history, physics, diasporic time travel...

ኣለማየሁ : I saw the world Betelhem Makonnen

ኣለማየሁ : I saw the world

  • Pump Project Gallery Austin, TX
  • December 9 – January 28, 2016

A solo exhibition of new work using photography, installations and video.

In ኣለማየሁ : I saw the world, Betelhem Makonnen investigates issues of estrangement, exile, racism and forced migration. The starting impulse of all her works are questions that arise from her own experiences in relationship to history and the construction of archives. Her references are a mixture of her personal history in combination with fragments of sources, ideas and thoughts she absorbs from research in texts of history, philosophy, literature and the internet.

ኣለማየሁ (Alemayehu, meaning “I saw the world” in Amharic) is the name of an Ethiopian prince. The presented works, composed from appropriated images associated with the British military invasion of Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) in 1867 – 68, re-frame and re-present the historical archives in an attempt to create a countervisuality to the visuality of the archive of imperial conquest. Rather than to see or look at the...


Invisible Intersections

  • Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District
  • March 31 - April 22, 2016

Twenty artists were assigned to six intersections in East Austin. Each artist chose subjects that represent the culture of a specific intersection. Their works will be shown in various media including photography, painting, film, video, and live performance. In collaboration with the Austin African American Cultural Heritage District, Austin History Center, The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, local artists, and businesses, the Six Square Project will commission artists from various media including photography, painting, film, video, and sculpture to create “portraits” of local citizens that live within the Six Square District. These multi-media portraits will expand the public’s understanding of the importance of Black Culture in Austin and solidify the history embedded in the stories of the people who live in this district. This multi-exhibition will take place in 3 historical locations for a duration of 4 weeks. Highlighting 6 of the most influential intersections...