If in 2002 the tenth anniversary of DAK’ART was celebrated, the contemporary African Art version of the Dakar Biennale was ten years old in 2006. The event’s relative youth has all the same helped to enlist greater attention and generate real interest for African contemporary production.
Despite the objective limitations of this mode of selection (which, up to 2004, rested on the principle of submitting individual files to an International Selection Committee), several art personalities have been revealed to the world of professionals by the Biennale of Dakar. Managers of galleries, contemporary art museums and training institutions, collectors and other art amateurs are more numerous to respond to the event’s call.
Such fame brings about greater demands at various levels:
Communication on DAK’ART getting more professional;
Improvement information of the publics;
A more significant improvement of the artistic content;
Capacity building in the field of scenography;
Functional and accessible exhibition venues;
More appropriate coordination of the works’ freight on arrival and on departure;
Mastery of the technical implications of the global artistic project
A significant installation of permanent supervision teams;
These demands can measure up with the stakes of the DAK’ART: to present contemporary African production in Africa by Africans. It is besides a responsibility which the Senegalese government will continue to assume fully along with partners engaged in accompanying the promotion of African production.
The city of Dakar has very soon stood out as an international cultural centre and as a framework for reflection and theoretical debate on visual arts. It means, through its Biennale to consolidate this position.
The history of the Biennale of Contemporary Art is the natural extension of a sum of reflections and action carried out by intellectuals and Culture experts from Africa and the Diaspora who have very early been aware of the role culture plays faced with the varied challenges met at various stages in our societies’ progress towards a better life.
In its maturation phase, DAK’ART is no doubt a relevant cultural proposal for the African Union. The wager of periodically gathering the continent’s expertises in the field of visual arts in Africa, of proceeding to an analysis of the state of our creators’ production, and of discussing the currency of the proposed works and the offered possibilities of promotion with the rest of the world, obviously contributes to an improvement of our contribution in the field of visual arts.
In these days of New Partnership for the Development of Africa, Culture as a sector seems to be subject to some new stakes. The stakes of preserving diversity under the threat of globalisation. The economic stakes of placing Africa and its creators in a privileged position for conquering new markets, those of the industries of the immaterial.
“The give and take” newsreel is an opportunity for the artists to bring their contribution to the restoration and update of a cultural patrimony which is rich of both its diversity and its ability to give birth to a new dynamic of production and enterprise.
There are still very few African artists in the international market. The rules in this art market are set outside the African continent by experts whose perception of African art is still circumscribed within reductive thoughts.
The Biennale of Contemporary African Art aims at being a space of different prejudice-free visions on approaches and inspirations to analyse in relation to a plurality of influences from both immediate and farther sources. The environment itself is today characterised by its relative spatial limitations in spite of the strong influence of the immediate social environment.
DAK’ART provides an occasion to fight the propensity to be prejudiced about contemporary art as expressed by some African creators by giving the floor to a different category of experts working at other levels of the visual arts world who refuse to confine themselves within some certainties and are concerned about a certain ethic.
Some big sections are beginning to appreciate the art works presented by the Dakar Biennale for what it actually reflects and not for the image one would like it to reflect.
We must, henceforth nurture this creativity and encourage the creation of a better informed criticism in Africa to contribute to an analysis of art works’ approaches and techniques. It is precisely this twin structure which has caused a growing number of African artists to be known and liked throughout the world.