Discussions / Ateliers

CONVERSATIONS: El Hadji Sy and Philippe Pirotte

Städelschule, Frankfurt a. M., Germany
04 Nov 2014

CONVERSATIONS: El Hadji Sy and Philippe Pirotte

El Hadji Sy, São Paulo Bienal, 2014. Photo: Pedro Ivo Trasferetti.

A discussion on the multifaceted practice of Senegalese artist El Hadji Sy, whose work as a painter, performance artist, curator, and activist in Dakar is the subject of the next exhibition at the Weltkulturen Museum (opening 4th March 2015).

As a painter, curator and activist engaged in developing autonomous artists’ collectives in Senegal, El Hadji Sy stands out amongst his peers from the African art scene. Exhibited internationally as a painter since the mid-1970s and hailed by the late Senegalese poet and President, Léopold Sédar Senghor, he is equally known for his rebellious attitude towards state cultural policy. In his capacity as artist and activist, El Hadji Sy co-founded the avant-garde performance group Laboratoire AGIT’art, was the lead instigator of the Tenq workshops and Villages des Arts in Dakar, and a key collaborator of the interventionist group Huit Facettes. In the mid-1990s, his work as an artist-curator was presented at the Whitechapel Gallery (London) and Malmö Konsthall in the exhibition “Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa”.

Sy participated in seminal exhibitions including “Otro País” (Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderna, Gran Canaria, 1994) and “Meditations” (Medersa Ibn Youssef, Marrakesh, 1996, together with Anish Kapoor, Ilya Kabakov, and Chen Zhen). More recently, for the 31st Bienal of São Paolo, he developed a 16-metre-long painting-installation activated by dancers on the theme of marine archaeology.

Philippe Pirotte, Dean of Städelschule and Rector of Portikus, is a Belgian art historian, critic, and curator of numerous international exhibitions. He studied Art History at Ghent University. In 1999 he co-founded the art center Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerp. From 2005 to 2011, he was Director of Kunsthalle Bern. Since 2004, Pirotte has held the position of Senior Advisor of the Rijksakademie for Visual Arts in Amsterdam. In July 2012, he became Adjunct Senior Curator at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Next to that he is currently Advising Program Director for the Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing.


El Hadji Sy in conversation with Philippe Pirotte
Tuesday, 4th November, 7pm
Städelschule, Dürerstraße 10, Aula
In English.