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Dak'Art portrays the influence of globalisation on African art

On May 7, 2004 the sixth biennial for contemporary African art, 'Dak'Art', will commence in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. This event has grown in the past decade to become one of the most important stages for African art, attracting visitors from all of Africa and around the world. The theme of the sixth edition is 'Contemporary African art tried by globalisation: problems, difficulties and prospectives'.

'Le Touriste', Performative Film Installation from
Gregg Smith, one of the participants of the biennial

 

What is special about the biennial is that there is no curator who determines the content of the exposition. Artists can register themselves as participants. A committee of international specialists selects the artists who will be allowed to exhibit their work from the applicants. Sara Diamond, initiator of the Canadian new media institute Banff, is currently chairing this committee. The committee selected 33 artists and five designers from sixteen African countries.

Although the biennial is emphatically focused on African art and bringing African artists together, individual expositions also present work by artists from elsewhere. Three curators were invited to compile individual expositions: Yacuoba Konaté from the Ivory Coast, Brazilian artist Ivo Mesquita, and Hans Ulrich Obrist from Switzerland.

Recurring themes of the biennial include urban esthetics, digital art, art critique and emerging cultural spots in Africa. These will be the topics of discussion during the 'Meeting and Exchanging' programme. New this year is the Dak'Art Lab, a platform for digital art for scientists, technicians and artists. The Lab is intended to become a nesting ground for digital artistic projects. Websites will also be made for artists in order to enlarge the presence of African art on the web.

Often equally interesting as the official programme is the extensive 'Off programme', with more than one hundred large and small-sized art projects and presentations throughout the entire city.

Dak’Art receives half of its budget from the Senegal government. Other substantial support is given by the European Union.

The event will be concluded on 7 June.

Gertrude Flentge

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