The Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar Opens on May 3rd

Words by Carla Ingrasciotta
May 3, 2016

Curated by French luminary Simon Njami, the biennial includes 65 artists from all over the African continent, including work by the late French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, who was murdered in a terror attack in Burkina Faso last week.

Dak’Art—Africa‘s largest biennial—will include presentations from artist form Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sudan, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, amongst others. The biennial also includes artists from African diaspora countries such as France and Italy.

The biennial sees its role as one of promoting artists in Africa who don’t usually receive this kind of platform. “Dak’Art objectives are to expand the possibilities of promoting African artists poorly represented in major international art, but also for Africa to develop its own speech on aesthetics and to participate in conceptualization of theoretical tools for analysis and appreciation of artistic proposals.” they state on their website.

The Biennale of Contemporary African Art aims at being a space of different prejudice-free visions on approaches and inspirations to analyse in relation to a plurality of influences from both immediate and farther sources.

The environment itself is today characterised by its relative spatial limitations in spite of the strong influence of the immediate social environment. Dak’Art provides an occasion to fight the propensity to be prejudiced about contemporary art as expressed by some African creators by giving the floor to a different category of experts working at other levels of the visual arts world that refuse to confine themselves within some certainties and are concerned about a certain ethic.

In its maturation phase, Dak’Art is no doubt a relevant cultural proposal for the African Union. The history of the Biennale of Contemporary Art is the natural extension of a sum of reflections and actions carried out by intellectuals and culture experts from Africa and the diaspora who have very early been aware of the role culture plays faced with the varied challenges met at various stages in our societies’ progress towards a better life.

The Biennale of contemporary African art in Dakar is the only event of note on the continent to consecrate its selection in particular to living artists in and outside the continent.

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