Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dakar Biennale

Fiber on fabric at the Terroubi Hotel
Every other year Senegal has an amazing celebration of the arts called the Biennale. This year the Biennale was May 9th thru June 8th.  I managed to visit more than 20 exhibitions, only about 10% of the exhibits around Dakar.
The Biennale began in 1989 and began emphasizing visual arts in 1992 and sometimes is referred to as Dak’Art.  The goal of the Biennale is to promote contemporary art and raise the profile of African arts internationally.  This year’s theme, “Producing the Common,” is a nod to the world as a village idea and specifically looks at the intersection of art and politics attempting to examine issues that effect everyone.
painting by Barkinado Bocoum at IFANN
The Ministry of Culture and Francophonie of the Senegalese Republic selects curators who jury the main exhibits and those jurors selected the 61 artists from whom they have accepted works.  These official selections are known as ‘On’ exhibits.  Artists may also register to be listed with the “Off” exhibits in formal galleries and informal spaces, such as personal homes.  Artists may choose not to formally register but still show their works during this arts celebration and may be referred to as part of the “Off Off”. 

Bois Sacre arts of Benin at Librairie 4 Vents
As an artist, this has been something I have been looking forward to since I moved to Dakar.  The city has art in every nook and cranny.  It has been fun to run around with friends to view art, explore Dakar and get inspired. 

In the Biennale Village, I was thrilled to see the work of Amary Sobel Diop included in the official exhibit.  See my previous post on his work.  His work is technically very precise and some of the most understandable of the artwork included in the ON. 

Paul Sika illuminated photography at Foundation Total
painting by Arebenor at Biscuiterie
Some of my favorites were the exhibits at the Biscuiterie, Librairie 4 Vents, Foundation Total and IFANN.  The vernissage of Manel, Kon-T and Alioune Diange was entertaining with their Figuro Abscuro performance and the artwork of the the three artists really reflected their influences upon on another. Sadly, my camera was not working properly to record my visits to Valerie Hamez's studio and Place de Souvenir.

The one I wished I hadn't missed:  Kama Rosinska.  Her work is stunning and powerful.  Check it out.


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