Haile was one of the first Ethiopians to study photography in the United States. He acted as the official photographer of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). In 1962, he was commissioned by the German Embassy in Ethiopia to capture images of postwar Germany during its industrial comeback. During his seven-week journey he visited East and West Berlin, the VW assembly lines in Wolfsburg, Munich and the Oktoberfest, the wine-growing town of Rüdesheim as well as many other places.
The photographs from Germany – exposing Haile’s subjective experiences – are now on display in the country for the very first time. His photos are sharing stories of schoolchildren, students and professionals, couples and families, as well as people working in factories, farms, educational institutions and laboratories. They narrate the different urban and rural realities of Germany.Haile followed people from their workplaces to their homes, documenting deep insights into their everyday lives. Johannes Haile’s photographs are more than historic documents. The photographer from Ethiopia was able to see beyond cultural differences. Sharing the individual stories of the people he encountered, he created a sense of togetherness.
The exhibition was conceived by Ethiopian curator Meskerem Assegued. She is the founding director of Zoma Contemporary Art Center (ZCAC), an eco-sensitive artist-in-residence project in Addis Ababa. Haile was her mentor and friend.