Copper in the Arts

June 2019

Transforming Copper Wires into Powerful Visual Statements

By Paul David

Elias Sime, Tightrope: Noiseless 10, 2019. Reclaimed electrical wires and components on
panel, © Elias Sime. 
Photograph courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York.

The James Cohan Gallery in New York recently unveiled NOISELESS, a new exhibition by Elias Sime that transforms thousands of feet of reclaimed copper electrical wire and discarded electrical components into powerful visual statements on a monumental scale.

His third solo exhibition, Sime is known for creating detailed works of fine art using reclaimed  technological components like salvaged motherboards and electrical wires that have traveled from far-reaching locations across the globe to his hometown of Addis Ababa. Sime meticulously weaves these elements into a stunning visual narrative. 

The exhibition showcases ten new towering works from Sime’s Tightrope series. He chose the name NOISELESS as a reference to freedom that is created by silence. 

“Noise is often associated with unpleasant sounds,” states Sime. “Noise can also seem to create words, or words can be part of noise. Words channel our thinking along familiar paths towards realistic images. The absence of noise allows our minds to create unfamiliar and abstract images.” 

The total body of work is titled Tightrope in reference to Sime’s precision and discipline required to walk across a tightrope, as well as the tenuous balance between the progress technology has made possible and its detrimental impact on the environment. 

The Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College will present Elias Sime: Tightrope in the fall of 2019, marking the artist’s first major museum survey. Elias Sime’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, and several museums around the world. 

BURNED IT, 2019, is a standout in the show, representing years of weaving delicate copper wires and small panels. After completing the structure,  Sime burned the surface, exposing the copper behind the colorful insulation. 

“Nature is full of vibrant colors, which we humans not only enjoy, but often expect to see,” Sime remarks. “I burned the surface of the painstakingly created colorful piece to invoke a dialogue about the identity of colors.”


James Cohan Gallery, 533 W. 26th St., New York, NY, (212) 714-9500 

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