Image: © David Drake
Artist & Curator's Workshop - Africa: Mirror?
8th Biennale of Contemporary Arts
Dak’Art Biennale has chosen for its 2008 edition the theme of Mirror in relation to Africa’s current presence in the world, i.e. the multifaceted realities and the crucial issues facing the continent and those living in it on the one hand, and its diaspora on the other hand.
The pregnancy and permanence of the image being consubstantial with the mirror phenomenon, i.e. what is reflected in the double sense of casting and urging to reflect, it is therefore receptacle and vector of images; it is ambivalent and has a double meaning, if one assumes that it can be true or distorting.
The 2008 edition of DAKAR Biennale for Art draws on the metaphor of the mirror to examine, question a destiny and try to outline through Art, a future, that of an Africa more current than ever, in an immediate conscience or in attempts to conceal the presence which raises many issues. This almost temporal issue puts into perspective a threefold questioning: that of attributed identity, attributed and accepted identity, and attributed and rejected identity.
While it is hardly possible for Africa to infer in the first perspective (assuming that the image attributed to it is often built from the outside, from presuppositions, preconceived notions and even pure imaginations), its responsibility is solely and exclusively engaged in the act of acceptance or conscious and elaborated modification of the attributed identity.
Image: © David Drake
Africa and the various stages of it's history have been presented and continue to be so in literary genres and forms, from the pre-colonial period to our era of globalization, through prisms which relate again back to the mirror of the past and current human being. What is reflected in this context draws excessively on imageries of Epinal, clichés which, ultimately, relate back to visions and symbols. Anthropologists, ethnographers, writers, and economists have used and have often exploited to excess such reflected products, because they are developed on purpose.
Thus the African Art has come, in a recapturing and reinterpretation process of its discourse, to ignore conventional images, because the artwork offers writing as a means of reflecting other images more valuable, as it corresponds to realities that devices cannot reduce to caricatures. The verb of Africans has gone back up to the genesis of these images and produces unreal counter-models.
In response to the escalation of caricature, Africans, researchers and artists, economists and journalists, all those who, in writing, participate in the demystification move, deconstruct discourses in an archaeology for which Art is, after all, a medium which Africa has recaptured.
The African Art fascinates, motivates, mobilizes and provides a corrective, valuable and rehabilitating prospect. They are demiurge, these masters of the true meaning, and they provide hope for Africa to be what it wants to be.
Thus, the meetings and exchanges of DAK’ART 2008 intend to be a true mirror which allows to show realities and to point to issues through phrases and words by and for a salutary catharsis.
Therefore, Dakar Biennale is at the heart of a multifaceted debate, a necessary and topical debate which calls for introspection, dialogue and solidarity. It will be about determining the responsibility of Africa engaged in a process the course of which it has to imperiously control.
Globalization, cultural diversity, freedom and democracy, economic growth, poverty, dignity, hope and expectation, are themes which deeply raise issues and show that there is no other option than the lucid and courageous taking of individual and collective responsibilities, firstly African, convergent, and respectful of the human being.
This prospect paves the way to recapture the initiative, calls to break with the trap of ethnological look and as Boubacar Boris Diop said, to look at "Africa beyond the mirror."
“Is what you see what I see?”
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