The Dak'Art Biennale Returns
(Photo by Fatma Esma Arslan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

17 contemporary works of art, consisting of sculptures, designs and installations, are exhibited in the open space at Doxantu project aiming to make contemporary art more accessible by bringing it to the streets within 14th Dakar Biennale in Dakar, Senegal on May 21, 2022.

The Dakar Biennale, one of the continent's largest cultural events, is back after the pandemic for its 14th edition.

The 14th edition of Dak’Art opened last Thursday, after a four year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, every two years, members of the international art world descended upon Dakar for its month-long Biennale. This year, Senegal’s teranga, or culture of hospitality, welcomes close to 300,000 visitors back and the city of Dakar serves yet again as a colorful backdrop for a meeting of minds.

The Dakar Biennale, dubbed Dak’Art, is one of the continent’s largest cultural events. Created in 1989 to celebrate literature, crafts, and visual arts, this form of the Biennale centered around contemporary African art has existed since 1996. Dak’Art has two unique parts: an IN, comprised of artists who adhere to the year’s theme, and an OFF, for those who do not. Where artists who show for the IN have works that can be found in national buildings like the Ancien Palais de Justice, Museum of Black Civilizations, Museum of African Art, and National Gallery, the myriad of artists who partake in the OFF show their off-beat works everywhere else in locations from hotels to restaurants to embassies to libraries to bus depots to beaches to galleries.

The IN features 59 artists from over 30 countries and the OFF serves as a ‘playground’ for close to 100 more artists. It’s a sort of ‘beautiful disorder.’ Dak'Art visitors feast their eyes on a number of mediums in both public and private spaces for free, and it’s quite literally an explosion of sculptures, paintings, photographs, videos, and more! The diversity and expansiveness make for one of the most unique art shows in the world.

This year’s theme “ Ī Ndaffa,” meaning "to forge out of the fire" in the Senegalese language, Serer, is fitting as it poses questions about the nature and autonomy of African societies, denotes a need for transformation, and looks to the future. Dak’Art invites artists to depict the political, cultural, sociological, and economic changes around them as the world seemingly goes through a period of transition. The event appears to hold a mirror up to the world, while looking towards what’s to possibly come.

In a world where the art of Africa and its diaspora demands the same high regard as that of the West, Dak’Art serves as a tool to advocate for both African excellence and the significance of the arts locally and globally.

Djbril Drame, founder of DM Media, affirms, “I get anxiety when I step out of my house. There are more people here than in previous years. People have been waiting for the return of this event… A number of mixed media pieces are my favorites.”

See some posts below.

Dak'Art runs Thursday, May 19, through Tuesday, June 21st. For more information, check out their website here, and keep up with the event on Instagram.