Dawit Petros

Dawit Petros, Double Cube Formation No. 1 from the series Mahber Shaw’ate (Association for 7), 2010

Jesse Boles | Davida Nemeroff | Dawit Petros

About The Work

Mahber Shaw’ate (Association of 7), takes as its starting point found cardboard boxes and an east African alphabet. Tigrinya is a language spoken in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. Inherent to the script are 7 individual permutations that transform 33 basic consonants into 231 symbols.

The work integrates performative, sculptural and installation strategies through Photography.Each image depicts a specific permutation documented in various studio locations and landscapes.

The work does several things. It proposes an alternate, parallel model for seriality in art. Second, it offers a metaphor for subjects who are transformed within different cultural contexts. Third, it uses simple cardboard as a material to construct elegant forms, while highlighting cardboard’s association with movements of people, objects and ideas. The result is a hybridized cartography of language. The temporary structures merge possibilities inherent in specific cultural frameworks: African and western. The photographs present a third-form, which borrows freely from both.


Dawit L. Petros was born in Asmara, Eritrea, raised in Kenya and Canada and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He completed an MFA at the SMFA, Boston, (’07), a BFA in Photography at Concordia University, (’03), and a BA in History at the University of Saskatchewan, (’96). Petros’ works have been shown at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Alexander Gray Associates, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., PPOW Gallery, Gallery 4, Observatoire 4, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Jack Shainman Gallery, Prefix Gallery, Gallery 101. Awards include; Canada Council for the Arts Project Grant, Art Matters Foundation Grant; Center for Photography at Woodstock Residency, and a Fulbright Fellowship. He was an Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, NY in 2008-2009. Petros was recently included in the exhibition Position As Desired / Exploring African Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum and curated by Kenneth Montague. Petros is represented by Alexander Gray Associates.

Website: www.dawitlpetros.com