Writing Art History Since 2002

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The fourteenth edition of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art, originally scheduled for May 2020 and postponed to 2022 includes the same selection and a slightly revised program.

Courtesy of Biennale de Dakar

Indeed, long before the COVID-19 crisis, the theme of this Biennale – ‘Ĩ NDAFFA #’ – Forger – Out of the fire – urged us to reinvent our models. The pandemic has only made this approach imperative and the need to rethink it urgent. This general theme refers to the founding act of African creation, which nourishes the diversity of contemporary African creativity while projecting new ways of telling and understanding Africa. It denotes the dynamics and action of creating, recreating and kneading. It thus refers to the forge that transforms, to the deposit from which the raw material comes, and to the fire that creates.

Forging consecrates the act of transforming one or more materials brought to incandescence in a fire, for the purpose of creating new forms, textures and materialities, and thereby, a new world. It is in this vein that for its 14th edition, the Dakar Biennale acquires a renewed and modernised visual identity. This development falls within an overall strategy to boost the institution’s image, designed to lay the foundations of its communication for the years to come. By anchoring the Biennale in digital technology, strengthening the consistency of its printed media, opening new doors to its programming, and enhancing its professional activities, this strategy aims at opening the Dakar Biennale to new audiences while consolidating its international reach. 

This year, the International Exhibition entitled ‘Ĩ NDAFFA #’ features fifty-nine artists, including four collectives, from 28 countries around the world – 16 African nations and 12 others in the diaspora. The 2022 Edition will renew the invitation of four (4) international curators. 

In addition to the “Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor”, a visual arts reference distinction, the Dakar Biennale has enshrined other prizes such as: 

  • The Senegalese Minister of Culture’s Young Creator Prize; 
  • The International Organization of la Francophonie Prize; 
  • The City of Dakar Prize; 
  • The UEMOA Prize for the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s eight countries’ Best Creator; 
  • The ECOWAS Integration Prize for West Africa’s Best Female Painter; 
  • The Sculpture Prize awarded by the Association Solidarité Laïque and the Société Coopérative d’Art Contemporain, SCAC Marestaing; 
  • And a major novelty, the “Ousmane SOW Resale Rights” Prize of the International Confederation of Societies of Composers CISAC’s. 

The 14th edition of the Biennale brings innovations and keeps track of all previous editions’ achievements. The Organizers dared the bet of innovation for a Biennale rooted in the sphere of visual arts, without breaking ties with its inclusive and holistic dynamics. 

In addition to the traditional options – the international exhibition and guest curators exhibitions – this edition opens up to new special projects and other surprising “carte blanche” exhibitions and beefs up the environmental events known as “Off” exhibitions with a diversity of artistic offerings throughout Senegal, in relation to the Regional Cultural Centres and in the Diaspora. 

The “Senegal and Guest Countries Pavillons” Exhibition (with China and Côte d’Ivoire) is an experience started in 2018 that “reconciled” popular Senegalese visual artists with the Dakar Biennale. This second edition will better leverage the achievements and practical lessons learned from the previous edition. 

The “DOXANTU” project intends to re-engage the public and push boundaries so that the Biennale can be discovered everywhere in the Dakar urban space. Select artists will create monumental works “In-Situ” on Corniche Ouest, along the western coastal highway, for improved contribution in urban design and beautification of select sites throughout this coastal highway sports course. 

This edition is also an array of new initiatives that propose to bring art into the nooks and crannies of Dakar and upcountry through series of film screenings, a multimedia space, an art market, a scientific symposium as well as professional meetings and educational workshops for young audiences. 

The “TERANG’ART” program will raise awareness of art and culture among official partners, parliamentarians, institutional and private decision-makers, as well as diverse other stakeholders. This will be realized through animation contents (movie screenings, gastronomic evenings, etc.) and exhibition of national artists’ and handicrafters’ achievements.

The opening ceremony will feature specific content that articulates the prowess of digital tools and artists’ performances. 

Live arts, digital art and literature will also be high on the event’s agenda with programs planned around “performances” by urban culture artists, contemporary dance, and the use of digital technologies for “mapping” and concerts with renowned artists to enhance the animation. 

The 2022 edition aims to consolidate the previous editions’ achievements, in particular on territorial networking, public/private partnerships, communication and animation issues. 

The Dakar Biennale is also the “Off” environmental events that capitalize on an average three hundred and fifty (350) projects, with a diversity of artistic proposals throughout Senegal, in connection with the Regional Cultural Centres and in the Diaspora. 

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