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Biennale of Arts 2024: no to postponing our World Cup!

Dernière mise à jour : 23 avr.

The Dakar Arts Biennial is a major event: it's an official event that takes place every 2 years in the world art calendar and puts Senegal on the map. It's our African Cup of Nations and even our World Cup of Art!

It's not just a few INs (the official exhibitions), but also hundreds of OFFs by Senegal's cultural and creative industries.

Beyond the official part, these private initiatives are the spearhead of our country's cultural diplomacy! How many artists, curators and gallery owners are already in the starting blocks, and have already put up their own money to be ready on D-day, 16 May?

With only 3 weeks to go before such an event, we need to earn respect, to be worthy and proud of our Biennial, in a word to be professional both in the artistic field and... in its public expression. The general interest prevails over any other interest.

The time for reckoning has not come, and settling personal scores does not go well with the general interest.

How can we damage the image of such a major event by asking for a postponement now, on 22 April? Who said anything about organisational issues before the last few days? Who spoke of the competence or otherwise of this or that person at the time of their nomination or even at the time of the selections, i.e. several years or months ago? Why was there such silence at the time, and why are we taking offence today?

As in previous years, the OFF will take art out of the academic realm and let the boldest creative proposals shine!

Thanks to the OFF, the Dakar Biennial of Arts will never be a reduced Biennial, as some would have us believe, because it does not stop at the threshold of the old Palais de Justice, which is elitist, confidential and even has-been in this digital age.

Admittedly, there have been a few political turbulences, but nothing on the scale of a pandemic that justified postponing the Biennial until 2020. We are not at war, nor in a state of siege.

There will always be time, once this edition is over, to look at its progress and its future, and to carry out all the necessary audits, without turning a blind eye to the loss of momentum of the INs, which is nothing new.

But before that, we need to send out a strong signal of continuity from the State, of confidence in the Senegalese and international cultural stakeholders who work so hard to be ready every two years to make Senegal and even Africa shine through its arts, culture and heritage! We expect the new authorities to do their utmost to organise this event before auditing it without indulgence.

Since 2020, the Senegalese art world has been suffering the aftershocks of the pandemic. The recent political problems in Senegal have not spared anyone economically, particularly in the cultural sector. This year, we were expecting a breath of fresh air, so please don't finish us off!

By attacking the Biennale just a few days before it opens, some artists are claiming to be dealing with a fundamental subject, but they are bringing down on all those who have been working hard on the Biennale for several months, without any official fanfare or help from anyone.

The Dakar Biennale of Arts is not a small microcosm, and it's not just the official exhibition: it's Senegalese artists, but also African artists and artists from the diaspora, and independent curators who work hard to organize and finance their events.

Yes, it's important that the Dakar Arts Biennial is held on time. It has taken 2 years to prepare. I can't imagine it being prepared on the sly like a Senegalese christening or wedding, and if that's the case, wasn't it Senegal that was able to organise presidential elections in 10 days? So, impossible is not Senegalese!

If it's not a complete success, at least as far as the official part is concerned, we can't blame the new government for having an IN that has been reduced in scope: it's better to hold such an event than to postpone it, or even worse, cancel it!

We can all agree that the Biennial is mismanaged, but that's nothing new. Let's have this edition, then let's establish who's to blame, and if need be, let's punish those who are blamed! but let's not put everyone in the same boat.

And if the IN is not capable of holding its own, the OFF is ready!

Astou Sall 

Independent curator 

Jendalma Art Design 

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