Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Breathtaking Korean Photos at the Nairobi National Museum

Last weekend, I attended a Korean photography exhibit at the Nairobi National Museum* with my friend and colleague J. We had received invitations through work and volunteered to go represent the U.S. Embassy there. High-level diplomats naturally receive many event invitations, and they certainly cannot attend everything. Sometimes, the Embassy needs to decline attending the event entirely, but other times another representative can be sent in the invitee's place. In this case, J and I were the substitutes - and we feel lucky to have these kinds of opportunities even as entry-level officers.

The exhibit, titled "Korean Fantasy", featured three artists: Jaemoon Yang, B.T. Kim, and Chunho Won. The art was all beautiful, but our clear favorites were Jaemoon Yang's snapshots of Korean traditional dancers mid-performance. Luckily for us, he was actually there and we were able to grab a photo with him and his work!

Amazingly, all the visitors walked away with one free print from each featured artist. Both J and I agreed we'd be framing ours as soon as possible and hanging them in our homes. It was such a generous gift for those who came to show support for the exhibit launch!

The whole program was made possible by the Korean Embassy in Nairobi, and I've written about their skillful public diplomacy work before. They do a wonderful job of bringing Korean culture to people who might otherwise never encounter it. (As an aside, isn't the below piece stunning? I really thought it was a moon over the ocean at first, until I realized the "waves" were dancers.)

I was so obsessed with Jaemoon Yang's work, I didn't even realize until I got home that I failed to get sufficient pictures from the collections of the other two artists. B.T. Kim and Chunho Won had beautiful photos featuring city- and landscapes familiar to those who have spent any time in Korea - including snow, traditional architecture, and signature flora. Here is just a taste of those (almost all monochromatic in delightful contrast to the overwhelmingly vibrant colors of the other pictures I've shared):

Anyway, the Korea Fantasy exhibit will be running at the National Museum through August 2018, so I highly recommend it to all my friends living in or passing through Nairobi in the near future! If you make the time to go, you won't regret it.

*I'm embarrassed to admit this was my first time there even though I don't live far away. It's a lovely venue and I'm now determined to make the time to enjoy the main museum soon.

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