Imagined Encounters was a solo exhibition of the Korean artists Bang & Lee at Nafasi Art Space in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania along with a series of collaborative workshops between artists and curators in Tanzania and South Korea and a group exhibition of new works created by Tanzanian artists in response to the workshops. The exhibitions were on display at Nafasi 3 April - 7 May 2021.
The project was initially developed to create cross-cultural exchange between South Korea and Tanzania through contemporary art and firsthand encounters between artists sharing their ideas, materials and practices. With funding from the Korea Foundation, the artists and I were to spend a month at Nafasi to conduct open studio sessions, get to know the artists working there, explore the cultural and artistic environs of Dar and create a site-specific installation based on our research about Asia-Africa connections and firsthand experiences in Tanzania.
We were preparing to embark on this journey in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began. After postponing the project as originally conceived, finally, in autumn 2021 we began to reconceptualise how our ideas could be realised without anyone traveling abroad. With Nafasi's director, Rebecca Corey, we developed a series of virtual collaborative workshops based on Bang & Lee’s ongoing Artist Stone project. The Artist Stone recreates various patterns from historical sources in Korea using a 3D ceramic printer that Bang & Lee built.
Eight Tanzanian artists were selected to participate from a call issued by Nafasi along with participants in Nafasi’s Curatorial Academy, members of the curatorial group TeamHashtag based in Gwangju, South Korea and Nathalie Shin, Chief Curator at the Total Museum of Art in Seoul. Taking Bang & Lee’s 3D ceramic printing patterns as a point of departure, the workshops investigated links, parallels, and contrasts in Tanzanian and Korean design, patterns, and visual cultures. These conversations provided an opportunity to explore historical and contemporary symbols, concepts, and systems that have shaped both African and Asian societies.