Dakar in the red hour

Until 2 June, the 13th edition of the Biennial of Dakar – Dak’art – is being held in Senegal. Over one month, dozens of artists and curators are getting the African capital to swing to the rhythm of contemporary art. An international-scale event reflecting growing interest in contemporary art on the African continent. Two years ago, the Biennial of Dakar paid homage to Léopold Sédar Senghor by choosing the theme “The City in the Blue Day”. In 2018, a new look at négritude is on the programme, with a change in colour to boot… This year, Dak’art is paying homage to Aimé Césaire and shifting to “the Red Hour”. The formula is poetic and socially aware: it is an invitation to evasion and anger. But could things be otherwise with Césaire? “The red hour” is an expression drawn from the play Et les chiens se taisaient, written in 1946. A text that broaches themes dear to the African author, such as emancipation, freedom and responsibility. A key event in African cultural life, Dak’art 2018 is placed under the dual banner of cultural and political affirmation. The event is being organised under the high patronage of the president of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall. In addition, the Biennale is being supported, at a rate of 75 %, by the country’s Ministry of Culture, headed up by Abdou Latif Coulibaly. A rate of State commitment that may well leave some in Europe or America wistful. Senegalese authorities have understood the importance of the cultural field in handling the issue of identity. Not so long ago, the Minister of Culture commented that the 2018 edition of Dak’art would be placed “under the double banner of consolidating achievements and innovation”. Its promotion of African creativity on an international scale thus allows the...

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Dak’Art 2014 forced to withdraw exhibitions referencing homosexuality

According to The Art Newspaper, the exhibition “Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness”, taking place as part of Dak’Art 2014, has been cancelled by Senegalese authorities, who have also forbidden the biennial from presenting any exhibitions which make reference to homosexuality. These events arise following an act of vandalism on Raw Material Company, which was the setting for the exhibition from its opening on 11 May 2014. The following day, the building was vandalised and damaged by Muslim fundamentalists, protesting against the homosexual references made in the photographic and video works displayed. The exhibition was formerly cancelled on 31 May and Raw Material Company remains closed. Although homosexuality is illegal in Senegal, an independent curator for the exhibition, Ato Malinda, told The Art Newspaper in April that “the show will cause controversy, but we will not censor...

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Symposium on Artistic Education in Africa

A symposium on Artistic Education in Africa — entitled “Condition Report (2)” — is to be held over three days, running from 26 to 28 June 2014. Taking place at RAW Material Company, a cultural centre in Dakar, and organised in collaboration with Dakar’s École Nationale des Arts, the symposium promises to shed some light on the current academic approach to art in Africa. Serving to build on the issues explored by a similar conference in 2012, which took as its focus emerging independent arts institutions throughout the continent, this edition is to focus on four central aspects of Africa and its arts education. The topics to be discussed are: “Faculties & Narratives: Histories of art academies in Africa”; “Curriculum & Syllabus: Content and orientation of teaching”; “Alternative Education: Workshops and artist collectives”; and “Comparative global contexts of art pedagogies”. Africa has witnessed over a century of changes to its systems of art training, which developed as part of a strong colonial influence or as an outcome of cultural development programs. Following Structural Adjustment Programs which took place in the 1980s and 1990s, the practice has witnessed a decline in quality and funding, prompting the organisers of the symposium to consider the crippling effects of low budgets and the need for a socio-cultural transaction in Africa. The event is to feature both closed and public discussions and is to welcome speakers from artistic and academic backgrounds, including Mara Ambrožič, Seyni Gadiaga and Elsbeth Court, amongst others. It is to be convened by Mamadou Dioum, Director of the École Nationale des Arts, Koyo Kouoh, Artistic Director, Raw Material Company, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, Associate Professor, Princeton...

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An exhibition of gay art in a country where homosexuality is illegal

Dakar (Senegal), 11 April 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). As part of the informal programme for DAK’ART 2014 – the 11th edition of the contemporary African art biennial – Raw Material Company, a centre for art, knowledge and society which is based in Dakar, is to present the exhibition “Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness” from 7 May to 18 July 2014. The upcoming exhibition has met with some controversy, according to The Art Newspaper, who reported that its curator, Ato Malinda, had received advice from a leading academic to cancel the event. Despite this plea, “Precarious Imagining” is still scheduled to take place at the centre. The works on display situate themselves in a tradition of rebellion and aim to create a dialogue about homosexuality in a country where it is still illegal. Works by Kader Attia, Jim Chuchu, Andrew Esiebo, Amanda Kerdahi M. and Zanele Muholi work across various genres such as video and photography, with the shared aim of encouraging a wider acceptance of homosexuality across the African...

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Dak’Art Biennial 2014 announces programme

Dakar, 6 August 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). Dak’Art 2014, the Biennial dedicated to Contemporary African Art, has announced the programme of its eleventh edition, which is to take place from 9 May to 8 June 2014 in Dakar, Senegal. The fair aims to promote the works of artists and art theorists working both in Africa and further afield. During a press conference on 3 July 2013 with the Nationale gallery in Dakar, its General Secretary, Bacabar Mbaye Diop, announced that Elise Atangana, Abdelkader Damani and Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi would be responsible for directing and curating the event. Organisers of the event plan to focus on film, science, and cultural diversity, using the event as an opportunity to bring together artists from across the world. The fair is also to present the results of a symposium dedicated to African sculpture, to take place between 16 and 31 October 2013 at the Village of Arts, on the Dak’Art Campus. This project explores the relation between art and the environment, encouraging collaborations between artists and students. The National Collection is to present a collection of works belonging to the state of Senegal....

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