Beninese artist Emo de Medeiros will feature transmedia installation at Dakar Biennale

Emo de Medeiros has been selected to present )U(, a transmedia installation, at the Ancien Palais de Justice in Dakar as part of the upcoming Dak’Art – Biennale de l’Art African Contemporain in May 2018. Emo de Medeiros, 39, is a Beninese artist living and working in Paris, France and in Cotonou, Benin.

The Dakar Biennale, or Dak’Art, is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Dakar, Senegal. Dak’Art’s focus has been on Contemporary African Art since 1996.

Medeiros’s work is based on a single concept that he calls contexture. It explores themes of transculturalism, transforming identities, post-colonial representations, and globalization as a worldwide hybridization and mutation, employing notions of origin, place and identity to question their context within our increasingly globalized culture.

“I’m interested in creating artworks that are also liberation devices,” Medeiros said in an interview with 1-54, “whether it be proposing non-ethnocentric conceptual art, pieces that counter the othering of African art and reactivate the memory of Civil Rights and decolonisation movements to fuel the current struggle against racism, or bring down barriers between actor and spectator. )U( is one such liberation device.” 

)U( Installation view. Courtesy: Emo de Medeiros / 1-54

Much of Medeiros’s work relies on developing ‘performative installations’, that is, turning visitors into active participants of his installations. Interested by the ideas of presence, experience, initiation and revelation in art, as well as its transformative power. He believes, as Duchamp famously proposed, that the spectator is a co-creator of the art work.

A digital artist extensively utilising technology, Medeiros belongs to a new generation of Africans who are more interested in the future of our continent than its past, and are using memory, history and tradition as fundamental elements of this outlook on the future.

His creative process has been described as Afro-futuristic, but he also defines himself as a Pan-African artist, just as much a trans-African artist who advocates seizing the presence of a worldwide diaspora with a rich history, that embraces a wide array of arts and cultures, as a tremendous asset.

The African continent is noted as having a striking discrepancy between the overabundant artistic energy and production on the one hand, and the limited means both to produce and show art on the other hand.

“I think that what we need today is a synergy between strong institutions, able to curate high quality artistic projects, and support from the private sector, a model that has proved very effective in the Americas,” Medeiros says. Having had logistical difficulties involved with large-scale mixed media projects himself, he started a Kickstarter campaign to finance the piece reaching US$ 13,301 out of a goal of US$ 12,005.

His work will also be shown as part of 50 Golborne’s participation in the upcoming New York edition of 1-54.