The Yatreda Art Collective is Using Web3 to Honor Ethiopia’s Past

Photo Credit: Yatreda Art Collective

Kiya Tadele and the Yatreda Art Collective is drawing the world’s attention to Ethiopia.

We interviewed the Yatreda Art Collective group leader Kiya Tadele about the group’s journey and their new NFT project “Strong Hair.”

Kiya Tadele has a lot of enthusiasm. After working in the modeling industry for seven years, she verged behind the camera with the need to explore more. Tadele is the leader of the Yatreda Art Collective, a group resurrecting Ethiopia century-long legends and preserving them through the blockchain. She has worked with production teams all over Ethiopia, assisting photographers and documentarians on their projects. It was at that time Yatreda happened to her. Together with a team which comprised her two sisters, Roman and Suzy Tadele; her husband, Joey Lawrence; and friends, Tigist and Abiy — they formed the Yatreda Art Collective.

In 2021, Yatreda, which consists of the two Amharic words “fence and debt,” championed their first ever NFT project “Kingdoms of Ethiopia” which was a series of motion portraits that deeply captures the Ethiopian old classic tales of kings, warriors and kingdoms. The art collective also just launched a new NFT project titled “Strong Hair” — a collection of 100 looping motion portraits that celebrates the eccentricity and vividness of Ethiopian hairstyles that have lived for centuries, thus exposing Ethiopian subtle diversity and cultural reputation through blockchain technology. The Yatreda Art Collective is indeed drawing the world’s attention to Ethiopia.

We spoke with Tadele about the art collective family, their journey and their new NFT project Strong Hair.

Tell me what was the inspiration behind the Yatreda art collective, how did the group breathe into existence?

Yatreda is the collective name for our family in Ethiopia making art in the style of “tizita”, which means nostalgia or a longing for the past. Our artistry ranges from hand-sewn historical costumes to leading musicians to capture their performance, attaching some background to our homemade metal stage.

Does the family have a leader?

Yes. I am inspired to lead this collective and preserve these Ethiopian things because this is the only chance we got. Our world is changing fast with modern imported things. We want to show the world that they can love the classic and local, cultural things.

What work is the Yatreda art collective known for?

Yatreda is all about nostalgia. Our inspiration was always to balance something new — like blockchain technology — to preserve and present something old, such as classic legends of the past. This mix of old and new is to say the timeline of our history doesn’t end, these stories are not finished. They belong to the past but also belong to us today- the art is about rediscovering our original selves once again.

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