restricted access CHAPTER 6. Market Space and Urban Space: The Business of Selling Art in the City
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219 The previous chapter concluded with a discussion of Fally Sene Sow’s mixedmedia collage on glass pictures of the city in relation to the internationalization of his artistic trajectory. Here I resume with a close reading of Sow’s KO sur la Route de Colobane (2011). Focusing on the Colobane market and its surrounding neighborhood, this artwork depicts the disorderly vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the market’s main thoroughfare. A skillful combination of cloth scraps, aluminum foil, and magazine decoupage portrays the traffic flow amid vending tables, ambulant vendors, and shops selling every imaginable good from near and far. The expanse of vending tables, signaled by colorful patterned umbrellas lining the street, alludes to the market’s protean form. What Sow proposes in this image is powerful: he suggests that market spaces take shape through the commercial interactions of buyers and sellers rather than because of brick-and-mortar buildings. Although Sow’s work depicts a specific market, his picture evokes characteristics that define markets throughout the city, including the art market. This scene portrays the market’s embedment in the city, pointing out that markets not only emerge from the possibilities of urban space, they also take shape and grow in response to the city’s population and traffic. The transactions that constitute a market space can emerge at any given turn. While the market is centered in Sow’s composition, its commercial chapter 6 The Business of Selling Art in the City Art World City 220 activity spills down the street and stretches beyond the scene’s frame. From the widest view, Sow’s work suggests that urban space configures market activities just as the activities of the market transform the city into a space of expanding, amplified commercial possibilities. In this chapter, I examine the embedment of Dakar’s art market in urban space, exploring the market’s constitution by both the urban population and the traffic moving in and out of the city. My analysis of the art market’s strucFigure 6.1. Fally Sene Sow, KO sur la Route de Colobane, 2011. Mixed-material collage and glass. Collection of Christian Faur. Photograph courtesy of Christian Faur. Market Space and Urban Space 221 ture, processes, historical development, and localization provides this chapter’s backbone. My contention is that Dakar’s art market does not hinge on formal architecture or designated commercial sites as much as it is contingent on relationships between its participants and their propositions. I propose that Dakar’s art market consists of a swath of sites that allow for commercial transactions between buyers and sellers around art. Because art market sites emerge from encounters between buyers and sellers, I pay close attention to the role of private collectors in Dakar and to the traffic moving through the sites where artists sell their works, including artists’ studios such as those at the Village des Arts. I address the factors enabling the art market’s localization in order to illustrate that Dakar’s art market is grounded in the art world city as well as the city more generally. This perspective challenges narratives about the art market’s absence from the city or its location outside Dakar in what Saskia Sassen describes as the “hyperspace” of global business.1 Were I to focus on transactions by galleries , dealers, or auction houses making sales to individuals and institutions in Europe or North America, I would shortchange the analysis of Dakar’s art world city by excluding the artists and buyers not circumscribed by this group. Individuals and institutions associated with global business inflect the market and contribute to Dakar’s art worlding, but they do not determine or define the market. My analysis embraces a somewhat undersubscribed perspective in another sense too. I examine the topography of Dakar’s art market—where artwork is sold—in order to explore how the business of art happens in Dakar and how it relates to the city and the art world city. By situating Dakar’s art market within the city’s broader market culture and commerce practices, I also illuminate the ways in which the creative economy takes its cues from the city’s larger economy. Dakar’s Art Market Topography Any analysis of the topography of Dakar’s art market must account for the city’s commercial art galleries, such as Galerie Arte, Galerie Atiss, and Espace Culturel Vema.2 Yet, discussion of the physical sites dedicated to the sale of art Art World City...


Subject Headings

  • Dak'art (Exhibition).
  • Art, Modern -- 21st century.
  • Art, Modern -- 20th century.
  • Art, Senegalese -- 21st century.
  • Art, Senegalese -- 20th century.
  • Artists -- Senegal -- Dakar.
  • Art -- Senegal -- Dakar -- Exhibitions.
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