Dak'Art : The Biennale of Dakar and the Making of Contemporary African Art book cover
1st Edition

The Biennale of Dakar and the Making of Contemporary African Art

ISBN 9780367562717
Published April 29, 2022 by Routledge
232 Pages

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Book Description

What can an art biennale in Dakar, Senegal, tell us about current discourses surrounding the place of art in the world, and in the academic study of anthropology? This volume investigates the Dak'Art biennale, ranked among the world's top 20 biennials, drawing upon fieldwork, archival research, and the experiences of those involved. In so doing, the chapters make a statement about the impact of globally-acting art biennials, contributing to current scholarship both on biennales and the anthropology of art scene more widely. 

Part I opens with the history of its foundation and considers it in conjunction with the rise of contemporary art in Senegal. Part II deals with the biennale's various objectives, selection strategies, exhibition spaces, platforms for debate, and discourses between the State, the secretariat and local artists and art world professionals. Part III examines the cyclical creation of contemporary African art, and questions if the Biennial creates local canonical practices. The Epilogue uses the Dak'art biennale to question assumptions around practice in general biennale scholarship and work. Featuring a dialogic structure between practitioners of art and anthropologists, this unique volume will be of interest to students of anthropology, art history and practice, African studies and curatorial practice.

Table of Contents


Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi and Thomas Fillitz 

Part 1: Historical Perspectives 

1. The Foundation and History of the Biennale of Dakar 

Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi   

2. A Politico-Economic History of Modern and Contemporary Art in Senegal: From Négritude Current to the Logics of the Open Society 

Massamba Mbaye 

3. The 'Distancing Children' from Senghor's Openness Take a Stance

Viyé Diba

Part 2: Dak’Art—The Biennale of Contemporary African Art 

4. Selection Committees, Selection Processes and Application Procedures

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi and Thomas Fillitz

5. Encounters and Exchanges: An Intellectual History of the Biennale of Dakar 

El Hadji Malick NDiaye 

6. Dak’Art and the Production of its Public 

Thomas Fillitz 

7. The Biennale of Dakar and the State of Senegal

Sylvain Sankalé

8. Reimagining the Biennal of Dakar

Koyo Kouoh and Eva Barois De Caevel

Part 3: Contemporary African Art at Dak’Art 

10. The Making of a Canon: Historicizing Contemporary African Art at Dak’Art 

Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi 

11. All the City is an Exhibition: The Dak’Art-Off in the Biennale and in Dakar’s Art World City  

Joanna Grabski 

12. Dak’Art’s Ecosystem: In and Out of Senegal 

Iolanda Pensa 

13. EPILOGUE: Global Biennial Discourses: A Critical View from Dak’Art 

Thomas Fillitz and Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi

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Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi completed his PhD at Emory University, USA. He is a Visual Artist, Art Historian and Curator. He works at the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA.Thomas Fillitz is Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Vienna, Austria. He is the editor of An Anthropology of Contemporary Art (2017).