Posts Tagged ‘Dakar’

Dakar, Sénégal. Condition Report: Symposium on building art institutions in Africa

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

One of the reasons I went to Dakar was to follow the “Symposium on building art institutions in Africa”, organized by Koyo Kouoh, the founder of Raw Material Company. Established in Dakar since 2008, Raw Material Company is “a center for art, knowledge and society.” With the self-confident claim that “The art scene in Africa is growing mainly on impetus of independent initiatives,” the symposium brought together some of Africa’s most important independent art spaces and initiatives as well as a series of exemplary projects from other continents. I learned a great deal about how the colonial past continues to provoke questions and polemics (while countries like China are buying up Africa’s agricultural land). It also became clear that a young generation of African curators, intellectuals, and artists are willing to change things and to build up meaningful projects while the ruling class and the politicians in power are envious, passive, or are attached to old concepts and privileges. Within the range of initiatives, I felt particularly drawn to artist-run projects like:

Dakar, Sénégal

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I arrived at Dakar airport around 2 a.m. on Monday, January 9, and was welcomed by hundreds of taxi drivers ready to drive me to town. Although I knew how much I should pay (or shouldn’t pay), I was very glad to see Antoine holding up my name and bringing me to Magic Land, the amusement park where my hotel was, situated just next door to the Supreme Court of Senegal. All this was a perfect start to immersing myself into Dakar. Next to Magic Land was a small bay where, at night, informal BBQs offered fish and salad. The following day, on that same beach, I discovered and visited local artist Cissé’s house and sculpture park made out of garbage. His built environment may be the world of an outcast, but it includes poetry and a good dose of contempt towards the empty discourses of officials and politicians. Cissé had realized his public art without being asked, and to me it looked more appealing than the other sculptures lined up at the seaside… (well, there was some surreal quality there too—see below).