Dakar, Senegal—The 13th edition of DAK’ART features over 75 artists from 33 countries around the world. The art event, held every two years under the patronage Senegal’s President, Macky Sall, Ministry of Culture, and Secretary of the Biennale, has been hosted in the Senegalese capital since 1992.
During the event, hundreds of galleries and satellite events greet the hundreds of visiting museum curators, critics and fellow artists who all flock to one of Africa’s oldest Biennales in search of the newest art.
This year, DAK’ART is centered on the theme of “The Red Hour,” an expression from one of the founding members of Négritude, Aimé Césaire, in his play “And the Dogs Were Silent,” a lyrical drama following a protagonist who tries to decolonize his own mind, paradoxically using the very language spoken by his colonizers (French).
In the Senegalese context, the reference to Négritude and Césaire builds on calls for black liberation, freedom and emancipation, a call to art that as Njami puts it, attempts to pave the way for “the transformation and emancipation of the individual. The hour of fulfillment opens the way to a new era where the individual rethinks his relationship with others and how to re-articulate his presence to the world,” he said.
The Cameroonian writer and critic was aided in his curatorial efforts by an international team of high calibre. Including the Moroccan director of the IFA Gallery in Berlin, Alya Sebti, Cameroonian artistic director of the art center SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Mexican author, Marisol Rodriguez, Cosmin Costinas, executive director of Para Site in Hong Kong, and Sweden’s Marianne Hultman, artistic director of Oslo Kunstforening (OK) in Norway.
One of the most interesting projects launched in the context of DAK’ART is Emo de Medeiros work “)U(,” which explores the relation between the “I” and social “me,” an installation housed within the former Palais de Justice based on a single concept emphasizing ‘transculturalness’ and interconnection, an art work with lingering connotations to Njami’s main theme of decolonization.
Above all, DAK’ART serves as a popular meeting point for artists, curators and critics. The sheer number of exhibitions and projects presented are dizzying, the quality varying, especially taking into account that Biennale includes about 300 parallel projects referred to as “OFF” with exhibitors and organizers coming from far outside the capital. Nevertheless, the quality and uniqueness of DAK’ART are not the individual art works as such, but the sheer volume and amount of artists and thinkers who come together, bringing together with them the possibility of imagining and building the world anew.
DAK’ART runs Thursday, May 3, through Saturday, June 2nd. For more information, check out their website here, and keep up with the event on Instagram. Keep up with OkayAfrica, as we follow DAK’ART closely, as creatives’ paths converge at this major Pan-African event.