Series Title:

"Been Magic * Been Real"

Recent exhibitions of the work include:

2024 Been Magic * Been Real @ Center for Book Arts, New York, NY


Been Magic * Been Real is a limited edition risograph artists’ book and correlating exhibition by interdisciplinary Ethiopian-American artist Helina Metaferia. Modeled after traditional Ethiopian “magic” talisman scrolls, Metaferia makes a contemporary paper scroll book out of collaged images of Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) women (cis and trans femmes) who have previously engaged in her By Way of Revolution social practice workshops around the country.

Protective iconography appropriated from the talisman scrolls adorn each image of the activists, who stand in historical revolutionary gestures. Crowd sourced text from her workshops and participatory installations are placed in sections where prayers are traditionally scribed. Bodily and performative in nature, Been Magic * Been Real is printed to scale of the human form, and can be hung as art, gazed upon, read, recited, or carried as armor in its portable carrying case as a wearable sculpture, much like the traditional scrolls it was modeled after. Like the original scrolls, the book functions as a “visual medicine” with a twist toward contemporary politics and social justice.