Dak’Art – A Vechilce for African Visual Arts

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Dakar Biennale of Contemporary Art or Dak’Art is scene as one of the most significant vehicles for African and diaspora visual arts. This year, the event attracted curators, collectors and critics from around the globe to engage with artists who represent Africa’s growing clout in the international art world.

The official Dak’Art programme comprised five exhibits featuring both established and emerging artists. The event included Julie Mehretu, Fabrice Monteiro, Abdoulaye Konaté, Mame-Diarra Niang, Soly Cisse and Wangechi Mutu.

The exhibition also included a video by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia in which transgender people in Algeria and India spoke about their lives. ‘Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness’ opened at Dakar’s Raw Material Company, however after one day the building was attacked and vandalised. The government shut down the exhibition and ordered the organisers of the biennale not to show any other LGBTI themed material.

Senegal is well-known for its peaceful and moderated Islam. Such an aggressive attack is absolutely unexpected, as is the government’s decision to shut down all the exhibitions in the biennial that deal with homosexuality. It is highly concerning that a country that has always been protected from fundamentalism is now opening the door through an official path.”

Kader Attia

The biennale was originally established in 1989, and took its inspiration from Senegal’s first president Léopold Sédar Senghor who established the World Festival of Black Arts in 1966. The poet politician wanted to celebrate post independence Africa and to promote Negritude, his doctrine seeking to elevate the shared achievements of black people worldwide. The festival assembled voices from 45 countries including Duke Ellington, Wole Soyinka, Nelson Mandela and Josephine Baker. Senegal, a peaceful country steeped in a rich history of arts, music and culture, remains the ideal springboard for promoting Africa’s creative output beyond her borders.

“Senegal has been at the crossroad of various civilisations for centuries, thus our people have an ability to navigate between different contexts.”

Omar Victor Diop,

Jackie Nickerson (featured in www.anothermag.com) captured some of the moments from the event in this series of stunning photos.
US-born, UK-based Nickerson has been photographying Sub Saharan Africa – has preoccupations with agricultural laborours and their relation to the environment.

Dakar has such a positive energy and is teaming with talent. I was particularly struck by the prevalence of street art.”

Jackie Nickerson

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