Sammy Baloji, Ouakam Fractals, 2015. Photo detail. Courtesy of the artist and Dak'Art 2016
The Dak’Art 2016, 12th edition of Dakar’s Biennale for Contemporary Art, will take place from May 3, to July 11. The aims of Dak’Art are to offer the African artists a chance to show their work to a large and international audience, and to elaborate a discourse in esthetic, by participating to the conceptualization of theorical tools for analyse and appropriation of the global art world.
Dak’Art 2016 is inspired by the theme “The City in the Blue (La Cité dans le jour bleu)” and will be curated by Simon Njami who was also named as the fair’s new artistic director. As inspiration from the theme, Njami selected the extract from a poem written by Léopold Sédar Senghor’s:
« Your voice tells us about the Republic that we shall erect the City in the Blue Daylight In the equality of sister nations. And we, we answer: Presents, Ô Guélowâr ! »
Those verses inspire Simon Njami’s ambition for the Biennale: to make Dak’Art a « new Bandung for Culture ».
‘Re-enchantments’ – the title of the main exhibition is closely related to the overall theme of the biennial which invites artists, and above all Africans, to invent new ways to re-enchant the world and the continent. Africa, the practical dream of a liberated Africa, responsible for herself, the dream of a continent whose sons sang and danced the freedom recovered at independence, caught in the spell of a future to be reinvented, has had its ups and downs. Some have been disillusioned, others have lost, in their gaze, this enthusiastic flame which alone can give the strength to change things. The re-enchantment is the reintroduction of new energy, a new creativity, a new mo- mentum. List of the artists below.
The Dak’Art 2016 will tribute to the Senegalese artist Issa Samb aka Joe Ouakam (Sénégal).
As great artists have passed away in the course of the past months: Oumar Ly (Sénégal), Souleymane Keita (Sénégal), Amadou Sow (Sénégal), Ismaïla Manga (Sénégal), Sidy Diallo (Sénégal), Leila Alaoui (Maroc- co-France) and Kiripi Katembo (DR of Congo). The biennial will bestow upon these artists the recognition they deserve.
This first carte blanche will be offered to the Doual’art space in Cameroon, in tribute to Didier Schaub. Last year, Didier Schaub, co-founder and artistic director of the Doual’Art space, left us. Since the early 90s, Didier Schaub and Marilyn Douala Bell, his wife, have been promot- ers and defenders of contemporary creation in Africa. It is a tribute to their pioneering commitment and through them, to the work produced by private organizations across the continent, that is given.
Dakar capital of the world is the principle that underlies this section, as it does that of the invited countries section. The Senegalese capital must become the place where contemporary spaces are discovered and appreciated that even Europe has not had the curiosity to explore. By inviting people who, thousands of kilometers away, are asking the question of art with the same terms that it is debated on the continent, we are expanding the range of possibilities by breaking the frustrating North / South dichotomy that has prevailed for too long. We intend to assert the international character of Dak’Art, its openness to the world, to mutual exchange and confrontation. For this, six curators from four continents will be invited to propose an exhibition of three to five artists who would globally reflect the theme of the 2016 edition. We will ensure that these exhibitions are financed by the countries of origin of the guest curators. The invited curators, their projects and the participating artists are:
Nadine Bilong (Cameroon)
Title: Le Manifeste de la Cité dans le jour bleu
With: Jean-François Boclé, Fred Ebami, Myriam Mihindou, Marc Alexandre Oho Bambe & Albert Morisseau Leroy, Barthélémy Toguo.
Orlando Britto (Canary Islands)
Title: About denaturalizations, cartographies and legends
With: Idaira del Castillo, Marc Latamie, Valeriano Lopez.
Solange Farkas (Brazil)
With: Sonia Gomes, Daniel Lima, Thiago Martins de Melo, Paulo Nazareth, Moises Patricio.
Valentina Levy (Italy)
Title: The witnesses of the invisible
With: Stefano Canto, H.H. Lim, Emo de Medeiros, Chai Siris
Sumesh Sharma (India)
Title: India’s surch for power 1966- 1982
With: Yogesh Barve, Kemi Bassene, Zied Ben Romdhane, Judy Blum, Ouso Chakola, Martin Chramosta, Samit Das, Julien Froment, Pisurwo Jitendra Suralkar, Raphaël Julliard, Naresh Kumar, Saviya Lopes, François Mazabraud, Aurélien Mole, Charlotte Moth, Somnath Mukherjee, Seema Nusrat, Amol K Patil, Maithu Perret, Chloé Quenum, Fazal Rizvi, Mithu Sen, Janek Simon, Eric Stephany, Sawangwongse Yanwghwe.
Sujong Song (Korea)
Title: Hybrid/ Metamorphosis
With: Wang Qingsong, Phan Quang, Noh Suntag, Pradeep Thalawatta, Anida Yoeu Ali.
URBI, a programme co-curated by Simon Njami and Delphine Calmettes, has been designed to build a network throughout the city and re-enchant popular places which up until now had been left dormant. La Corniche, on which we plan to install shipping containers that will be artist studios and in- formation kiosks, the Market, the Place de L’Indépendance whose hotel’s facade could be revitalized by graffiti artists and many other places will be invested to give each Dakarois, and beyond that each Senegalese, the opportunity to participate, each in his or her own measure, in this celebration of African creativity. We plan to move some of the immobile railroad cars from the station on the Avenue … where these unconventional places will be invested by artists and will also serve as information kiosks.
The symposium States of Opacity is curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose and Mara Ambrožič. Alioune Diop had opened the conference of Black writers and artists held at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1956 with these words: “After Bandung, the first most important event for non-European consciences, the 1st World Congress of men of black culture is the second event of the decade.1”
It is up to us to awaken this useful dream through the precious tool that is the Dakar Biennale. We must return to the beginning of things, not to reproduce a pale and outdated copy, but to update the terms of the debate and forge the weapons of a creative sustainability of re-enchantments.
Many artists have, quite rightly, expressed the desire for information on international events, market movements, copyrights, etc. Two workshops are organized for young Senegalese professionals:
– A workshop dedicated to Cultural mediation, directed by Dagara Dakin, to introduce them to the exhibitions of the Biennale. They will thus become the mediators for the local and international audience to the art works.
– A workshop dedicated to the Art critic, directed by Frédérique Chapuis. During the opening week, a daily newspaper will be produced by the participants of the workshop.
A catalogue in two volumes is produced, in partnership with the Kerber publishing House, that will bring together the different sections of the event.