At Dakar Biennale, Africa’s artists urged to seize chance

Reuters | Tim Cocks

Senegal’s old Palais de Justice sits among some of the most sought-after real estate in the capital Dakar, where it shares a stunning sea view with the nearby French ambassador’s residence. So, many Senegalese were surprised when 18 months ago President Macky Sall turned the vast modernist building into a museum for fine arts – rarely a priority for African leaders usually more preoccupied with building roads and wooing hotels. Now, at the latest installment of Africa’s oldest and biggest biennale art exhibition, the curator who lobbied for this space wants African artists to seize the moment as the continent finally starts to enjoy the attention it deserves.

“The global message for the African is, if we don’t catch that train – and the train is leaving now – too bad for us. Tomorrow will be too late,” curator Simon Njami told Reuters at the venue, where more than 75 artists from around the world are exhibiting their work for a month. The practice of hosting art exhibitions every two years has spread to several African countries, but none has been more successful so far than the Dakar Biennale, founded in the 1990s and also known as Dak’Art…read more

Image: A man looks at “Triumph of Seagulls”, by Nathalie MBA Bikoro during the 13th edition of the Dakar Biennale of African Contemporary Art, Dak’art in Dakar, Senegal May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Mikal McAllister