Photo via Cultura Dakar's Twitter page.

Here's What You Need To Know About the 2018 DAK'ART Biennale

A preview to the 13th edition of the DAK'ART Biennale that begins in Dakar, Senegal, today.

Today marks the beginning of Dakar's 13th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, DAK'ART, under the patronage of Senegal's President, Macky Sall, Ministry of Culture, and Secretary of the Biennale.

The city of Dakar has hosted this notable month-long event since 1992 and this year will be no different with 500 million CFA francs dedicated to ensuring it goes off without a hitch. The fair includes 75 artists from 33 countries around the world exhibiting in official museums, theatres, galleries and other edifices all over the city. They will come from far and wide to display their work on a grand-scale metaphorical stage. Where DAK'ART will offer these artist's visibility, it will offer its international audience a renewal of black consciousness.

This year, DAK'ART is centered around the theme of "The Red Hour" an expression from Negritude forefather, Aimé Césaire's play And the Dogs Were Silent. The phrase calls to mind freedom, emancipation, and liberty. It is in essence, "a decisive moment, the crossroads between the past and the future that we call the present," Simon Njami, returning artistic director, states. The broad range of art displayed communicates where words fail. The Red Hour is, as Njami puts it, "the transformation and emancipation of the individual. The hour of fulfillment opens the way to a new era where the individual rethinks his relationship with others and how to re-articulate his presence to the world."

The Cameroonian writer and art critic has curated this event with help from a notable team of guest art connoisseurs: Moroccan director of the IFA Gallery in Berlin, Alya Sebti, Cameroonian artistic director of the art center SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Mexican author, Marisol Rodriguez, Cosmin Costinas, executive director of Para Site in Hong Kong, and Sweden's Marianne Hultman, artistic director of Oslo Kunstforening (OK) in Norway.

Dakar becomes a meeting place where, according to Njami, the following questions are posed, "How do you formulate a thought that is exported in the field of contemporary art? How do artists articulate theory within their works? How do artists theoretically rethink the notions of aesthetics, violence, homogeneity and localism? What are the practices of the collection and strategies for the empowerment of cultural policies? How do you establish a vibrant art market on the continent?"

The exhibition serves as a showcase of the diversity and universality of art coming out of the African continent and its diaspora. It's also a celebration of a dynamic art market, which is debatably in its early stages.

Running simultaneously to the "IN" edition will be 300 autonomous artistic events referred to as "OFF" with exhibitors and organizers all over the capital and its neighboring islands. The "OFF" edition is a private initiative that affirms just how entangled art is in the city's network. Venues vary from homes to courtyards to restaurants to public spaces to hotels. It brings the general population closer to the festivities. "OFF" pluralizes and expands DAK'ART. With so many possibilities, it's evident interacting with Dakar's environment, streets and people is integral to this overall experience.

DAK'ART runs Thursday, May 3, through Saturday, June 2nd. For more information, check out their website here, and keep up with the event on Instagram. Keep up with OkayAfrica, as we follow DAK'ART closely, as creatives' paths converge at this major Pan-African event.


Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based site merchandiser. A surveyor of life who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa, keep up with her on Instagram and Tumblr.

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