Simon Njami arrived in Zimbabwe today for the opening of the Art at Work exhibition. He is one of the curators of this show, and is one of the most well know African curators. Art at Work is an amazing photo exhibition which includes a pavilion in the Gallery’s sculpture Garden.
I will blog more about him and the show, but as I was introduced to him today, I had one of those moments where you pause. ..an epiphany. Here is little old me, a year out of college and I am shaking hands with Simon Njami. Mr. Chikukwa informs me that I will be his right hand man (woman) at the workshop tomorrow.
All around me white wine gently swivels in the gallery glasses as visitors meander around viewing the photographs. Prudence Katomeni sings, so I am very happy; her music is heard over the buzz created by the 200 mouths chatting politely about the exhibition, about life or what have you.
Mr. Njami is very polite to me, as expected. After the appropriate conversation formalities, he asks me, “So are you happy?” Unsure what the question means, I respond, “Yes, the exhibition is great, it’s really…” Before I finish he says, “No, I am not talking about the show. Shows come and go, If you are unhappy you can go to a good show and not enjoy it.”
Wow, I was not sure how to respond. Curious to see what he would say, I asked him the same question, “ Are you happy?” He folds his hands, one of which holds an empty glass, he squints in a none threatening way and says, “In what way?” Before he finishes, we are interrupted by ‘distinguished guests’ who want to have a few words with him before leaving. This is my cue step away at a polite distance and let him talk to these guests who are thanking him for coming to Zimbabwe.
He seems like are an incredibly interesting person, as in as a person apart from his usually exhibition context. I look forward to tomorrows workshop with him. I know I will learn a lot.