Biennial of Contemporary African Art, Dak’Art 2018, underway in Senegal

Since 1990, the Biennial of Contemporary African Art, Dak’Art, has been a platform for contemporary art with cultural roots in Africa. The 2018 edition, which also celebrates its 26th year of existence, will be held from 3 May to 2 June in Dakar, under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Senegal.

The Dakar Biennial was conceived in 1989 as a biennale alternating between literature and art as a fusion between the Senegalese state and the local artists who, since the seventies, have been organizing regular annual art exhibitions which bring to light the different shapes of the evolution of contemporary art creation. 

The biennial has become a landmark event in the cultural calendar of Africa and its Diaspora, and this 13th edition will serve as an essential rendezvous of contemporary African Art and beyond in line with its aim to consolidate the achievements of previous editions, particularly on the issues that affect the territorial network, the public / private partnership, communication and animation.

Victor Ehikhamenor, The Prayer Room 2016 mixed media installation, DakArt 2016

The Biennial explores the theme The Red Hour, which speaks of emancipation, freedom and responsibility. The expression is coined from “And the dogs were silent”, a written work by Aimé Césaire, a founder of the négritude movement in Francophone literature.

Artistic director of the 2016 edition, Simon Njami, has been renewed for this year’s edition. Alongside Njami, the Dak’Art has invited Elvira Dyangani Ose, Marisol Rodriguez, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Alya Sebti and Hou Hanru as guest curators. Each of them will curate a collective show with 3-5 selected artists.

For the International exhibition titled A New Humanity, 75 artists from 33 countries around the world are meeting at the Dar’Art biennale in Dakar to exchange ideas on latest developments in visual arts. Artists showcasing their creativity to the world include: Kudzanai Chiurai, Zimbabwe; Emo Medeiros , Benin; Guy Bertrand Wouete, Cameroon; Christian Nyampeta, Rwanda; Tejuoso Olanrewaju, Nigeria, Alioune Badara Sarr, Senegal; and Ndidi Dike, a visual artist working in sculpture and mixed-media painting and one of Nigeria’s leading female artists among other great artists.

Intellectual property issues are taken into account during the biennial, with the introduction in the themes of “Meetings and Exchanges” of subjects dealing with literary and artistic property rights attached to visual arts works and their exploitation. In addition, the publication of the proceedings of the “Meetings and Exchanges” will also feed the first contents of the magazine “AFRIC’ARTS” which is expected in the second half of 2018.

A major innovation is also included is the opening of the Senegalese Pavilion which will offer a showcase of choice for all the artists of the host country, and a space of awakening to art, created for the children to introduce them to the contemporary art of the continent.

Rwanda and Tunisia will be honored in this edition for a demonstration of their contemporary artistic creativity.

The Biennale of Contemporary African Art prides itself at being a space of different prejudice-free visions and creating new approaches in the definition and the conceptual view of contemporary art in Africa, while creating new partnerships among African creators and also between African creators and creators from other continents.

The Biennale devotes to each edition “Leopold Sédar Senghor Grand Prix ” which is a reference distinction in the field of visual arts.