LA-based Cleveland native Ainslee Alem Robson is an award-winning Ethiopian-American director, writer and media artist. Her directorial debut, Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir in VR, based on her personal experience deconstructs tensions embedded within intersectional layers of her biracial identity, migration, perception, and nostalgia. This afrosurreal 360 film premiered at Tribeca, SXSW and travelled to 11 other film festivals and art spaces worldwide. Ferenj received the Special Jury Prize at the NewImages Film Festival in Paris and has also been translated into French and Mandarin. She creates productive images of her community, of Ethiopia and of the continent—to push beyond reductive and misrepresentative narratives of Africa and Blackness. Ainslee’s background in philosophy renders a critical approach to her emancipatory storytelling strategies. Through a transcultural, feminist, and first-generation American lens she crafts stories focusing on underrepresented narratives that deconstruct identity, hierarchy and colonial legacies using film and emerging technologies in digital art.
Her work is characterized by speculative and emancipatory storytelling strategies, with a post-colonial lens fueled by her insider/outsider access and artistic perspective. Ainslee's non-fiction writing has been published by e-flux Architecture, Art Africa Magazine and Vogue Italia. Ainslee has worked on the production of several commercials as well as on the production team of the Addis Foto Fest ‘16 with renowned artist Aida Muluneh. She has written for Season One of Tibeb Girls, one of the first children’s animation series created in Ethiopia. She holds an M.S. in Fiction and Entertainment from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a B.A. in Philosophy and French from The College of Wooster.
Ainslee is based in Los Angeles. For collaboration, commercial, or press related inquiries please reach out to her at email@example.com.
Keynote Speaker, University of Johannesburg, Graduate School of Architecture (GSA)
Building Science Lecture Series: Generative Citizenship, Rensselaer University
Guest Lecture, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Guest Lecture, University of California San Diego (UCSD), Virtual Environments
Guest Lecture, University of Toronto, Daniels School of Architecture, Lazy Computing
Public Lecture, University of Toronto, Daniels School of Architecture, Exploring Design Practices
Festival of Curiosity, Dublin, Ireland, Production Design in XR
SXSW Conference, Bridging Cultures Through Narratives
Alliance Française Quito, Ecuador
NewImages Festival Conference, Women in XR Discussion
Scatter XR Nights, Art in Conversation with Race
Tribeca Talks at Home, Kinfolk
Kaohsiung Film Festival, Home
MU Hybrid Art Space, Worlding Worlds
From Ainslee's keynote address at the U12 Seeing South Seminar at University of Johannesburg's Graduate School of Architecture hosted by renowned architect Sumayya Vally of Counterspace. Other speakers were Maxwell Mutanda, Joris Komen, and Ilze Wolff. She was also invited to speak at Scatter's XR Nights for a discussion of 'Art in Conversation' with Race alongside Lajune McMillian, Zahra Rasool, Idris Brewster and Stephanie Dinkins.
Commissions, Exhibitions, Collaborations, Publications & Credits
Accra Theatre Workshop
Actual Objects Studio
Counterspace Studio, Sumayya Vally
C& Curators Julia Grosse & Yvette Mutumba
DJ Hewan Aman
Forum des Images
Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa)
MU Hybrid Art Space
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York
Virgil Abloh ft. Serpentwithfeet
We’ve gathered the innovative creators behind our Cinema360 “Kinfolk” program for a special conversation on their work and the meaning of nostalgia, home, and family. Join moderator Loren Hammonds for an intimate discussion with “Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir In VR” director Ainslee Robson, director Diego Kompel of “The Inhabited House,” and Min-Wei Kuo (on behalf of “Home” director Hsu Chih-yen).