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Afro-Imaginaries in Harare, Zimbabwe

Jun 26, 2017 – Jul 13, 2017
Harare, Zimbabwe
Research Question
The workshop explored “portraits” of liberation and collective action and the ways we think about urban imaginaries. The goal of the workshop was to develop an urban portrait of Harare, Zimbabwe linking the city to other sites in the African Diaspora, and exploring how the imagination, dreams of the future, and desire inform social movements and radical social practices embedded in the everyday life of cities. The urban portraits and “urban imaginaries” were represented through a single drawing produced by each student.
Schedule
June 26 - June 30, 2017 (GSAPP)
June 01 - July 13, 2017 (Harare, Zimbabwe)
Collaborators
National Gallery of Art, Harare
Nontsikelelo Mutiti – Artist and Educator
Methodology and Process

The initial phase of the workshop included preliminary research and a literature review of the following topics: Urban – Rural Migration, Border Flows, Urbanization, Settlement, Urban Governance, and Infrastructures. Simultaneous to the literature review during the first phase, the workshop participants learned digital representation techniques presented by renowned artist Olalekan Jeyifous.

The second phase of the workshop included on the ground field research and site visits to transportation nodes, urban markets, and settlement and housing areas in Harare, Zimbabwe. Students were asked to produce at least one (1) drawing, sketch or mapping each day.

The final phase entailed the production an “urban imaginary” by each student based upon there individual research and analysis of the city.

Output and Findings

The research resulted in the production of a single drawing “urban imaginary” which was presented in the central hall of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Additionally, each student produced a final text or artist’s statement regarding his or her concept. The urban imaginaries were presented to a review jury consisting of the following artists, scholars, and curators. The students’ works are now in the archives of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Rebecca Aston - Media Artist, Berlin
Tandazani Dhlakama – Curator; Education Director, National Gallery of Zimbabwe
Mpho Matsipa – Curator, Columbia University Studio-X Johannesburg
Maxwell Mutanda – Architect /Designer, Cape Town, South Africa
Nontsikelelo Mutiti - Multi-disciplinary Artist, New York
Tinashe Mushakavanhu – Writer, Journalist and Cultural Commentator
Dana Whabira – Curator and Founder, Njelele Art Station
Mabel Wilson – CoDirector, Global Africa Lab, Columbia University

United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry K. Thomas, Jr.

United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry K. Thomas, Jr. (M.S. Urban Planning) hosted the Afro-Imaginaries workshop participants at his home for breakfast and discussion about the diplomatic mission to Zimbabwe. Born and raised in Harlem, Ambassador Thomas worked in planning in the Bronx for about a year after completing Columbia and then entered the diplomatic corps in 1984. Ambassador Thomas is one of our highest ranking Ambassadors in the Foreign Service. He has been Ambassador to the Philippines, Bangladesh, and was the Director General of the entire Foreign Service.

Ambassador Thomas shared with the students his experiences from over more than 30 years in the U.S. diplomatic corps and his optimism about U.S. – Zimbabwe relations and the African continent. Also in attendance, was the U.S. Department of State project manager for the new U.S. Embassy campus in Harare who shared design drawings and renderings for the new campus with the workshop participants.

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