Since 2008, the Michaelis School of Fine Art has afforded first year Masters students the opportunity to attend a major international art event. Our visit to Dak’Art in May, 2014 marked the first time the nine-strong student group attended an art event on the African continent.
Since 2008, the Michaelis School of Fine Art has afforded first year Masters students the opportunity to attend a major international art event. Previous destinations have included the Venice and Sao Paulo Biennales and the Frieze Art Fair in London, among others. Our visit to Dak’Art in May, 2014 marked the first time the nine-strong student group attended an art event on the African continent.
Conceived in 1989 as a sustainable platform to showcase the wealth and diversity of African cultural production, The Dakar Biennale – or Dak’Art, as it more commonly known – is the oldest and most comprehensive art exhibition of its kind on the continent. Now in its eleventh iteration, the biennale is a direct descendent of then-President Leopold Sedar Senghor’s First World Festival of Negro Arts held in Dakar, Senegal, in 1966.
Firmly located in the long shadow of Senghorian pan-Africanism, Dak’Art is open to entries from citizens of any African country. Between 9th May and 8th June, the main exhibition venue on the south-eastern edge of the Senegalese capital housed the work of 61 artists from across the continent and within the African diaspora. Some 250 more featured in the accompanying Fringe events, called the OFF festival.
The Masters group will present our various experiences of Dak’Art. By engaging with the show as a whole, we aim to expand on the manner in which the biennale profiles the work of African cultural practitioners on a global stage. The curators of Dak’Art 2014, Elise Atangana, Abdelkader Damani and Ugochukwu Smooth Nzewi, articulate the spirit of the show as “both a place of exhibition and a space where the history of African art is made”. Bearing this in mind, we hope to explore how Dak’Art might present a geographical and ideological challenge to an art centre constituted in the West.