In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

DAK'ART M o a t a z N a s r , The Water, D a k ' A r t 2 0 0 2 , v i d e o stills, Prix R e v e l a t i o n SUE WILLIAMSON I n my hotel r o o m in Dakar, at the time of my first Biennale at Dakar, a commercial for an international conference in communication in Beirut plays over and over on late night C N N . Voiceover: "Is your m e n u a local one (plate of sushi onscreen) or global?" (The sushi is replaced by a hamburger.) "Why not discover the Lebanese m e n u (plate of meze with smoothly swirling h u m u s dip in a little bowl at center) where a hunger for communication can blend cultural contradictions into a harmonious whole?" These questions of local m e n u versus global, what role cultural contradictions have to play in contemporary art, and whether a harmonious and neatly packaged whole is desirable or not for contemporary art is what has brought me to Dak'Art 2002. Dak'Art 2002, the 5 t h Biennale of Comtemporary African Art, is unique on the ever-expanding list of biennales on the international calendar. This is because Dak'Art 2002 is the only one to restrict participants to either having been born on or having a direct familial contact with the continent on which it takes place. The complaint of the traveling caravan of museum directors, gallerists, curators and art world others who attend biennales that one sees the same artists and the same work popping up all over the globe will not be heard here. This year, a new director has taken over Dak'Art: Ousseynou Wade. At his insistence, the catalogue, which had previously has been printed in France, has been printed here in Senegal. It is a handsome publication, with exemplary reproductions of the work to be exhibited, and proves that in this matter of printing, at least, Dak'Art is up there with the rest of the world. As this will be the loft1 anniversary of Dak'Art, some reflective comments in the catalogue are appropriate. We read that the founding of Dak'Art in 1989 was the inspiration of the "poet president" Leopold Sedar Senghor. Thus it is probably true to say that Dak'Art became the only biennale to be established by presidential decree, rather than by an initiative of art world and cultural authorities. Senghor was a visionary, who "sought to make his country the cultural and artistic beacon of the African continent", writes Marie-Jose Crespin, President of the Scientific Council of Dakar, in an introductory essay. "But what reasons could justify regularly holding a major artistic event such as Dak'Art in a country with very little economic wealth to support it? Crespin answers her own question with an obviously sincere statement which might be the envy of many other African countries in which contemporary culture is given only lip service , that Senegal "has been convinced since independence that culture is a form of development strategy." Presidential interest in Dak'Art has been maintained. A welcoming letter from the Presidential Office introduces the catalogue, and on Friday of opening week, President Abdoulaye Wade spends the morning touring the international exhibition. Taking the time to briefly address the conference on biennales, Wade reiterates the importance of art in the cultural life of Africa, and gracefully announces that "artists can go farther than politicians." No less than 30 different African countries are represented on this edition of Dak'Art. It features a main exhibition of international artists, a salon of African design, three individual exhibitions by invited curators of three artists each, a homage to popular Senegalese artist Gora Mbengue and a retrospective 2 2 • N k a J o u r n a l of C o n t e m p o r a r y A f r i c a n A r t 2002 E m e k a U d e m b a , World white walls, 2 0 0 1 , M i x e d M...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2152-7792
Print ISSN
1075-7163
Pages
pp. 22-27
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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