“SANS RIEN”: Issa Samb alias Joe Ouakam

Laboratoire Agit’art, Dakar, Senegal
09 Dec 2014 - 10 Jan 2015

“SANS RIEN”: Issa Samb alias Joe Ouakam

Laboratoire Agit’art presents the exhibition Sans Rien featuring the work of artist Issa Samb, alias Joe Ouakam.

Issa Samb has joined the grand old tradition of artists without artwork. He is one of those people who construct their own lives as their personal masterpiece, sometimes even their sole work of art, because they don’t need to produce anything for their contemporaries to consider them artists.

They are self-artists whose principle canvas is their lives, their ways of being and of being seen.  They might produce artwork on occasion or never at all, but either way this has nothing to do with their status, the role allocated to them, or the importance they are given. Issa Samb carries on this ancient tradition with aplomb and, by giving Senegal a key role in this peculiar global history of “artists without anything,” he invites us all to ask what dreams we have in common or what drives us to persist in producing, accumulating, hoarding, selling, buying, earning, overtaking, conquering…

Just as Diogenes did in ancient Athens, Issa Samb astounds contemporary Dakar with his decision to live an excellent life off of nothing, a beautiful life without anything: no salary, no sales, no home of his own, no luggage when he travels, no electricity in the center of Dakar, no appliances old or new, no telephone, no chef, no guide, no obligations. Often he lives without speaking, without eating, and of course always without working, without… anything. And there is one respect in which Issa Samb goes even farther than the Cynic philosopher in his privation. For his part, Issa Samb does not reprimand other people for using things he does not use himself. He doesn’t rebuke anyone or anything. As devoted as he is to evaporation, scarcity, frugality, and emptiness – to nothingness, in fact – he has one treasure in abundance: his love of other people and of universal liberty.

The exhibition will bring together:

Photographs of Issa Samb surrounded by his nothingness

Two films: Joe Ouakam, la marche des œuvres  (Joe Ouakam, the March of Artwork) and sans rien (Without Anything).

These are extracted from a nonfiction account written by a group of people from Dakar and elsewhere who have accompanied the artist Joe Ouakam for decades. Their heartfelt testimony will allow us to pay homage to him as well.


Opening 9  December at 7  pm

Laboratoire Agit’art
17 rue Jules Ferry,
Dakar, Senegal





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