Dak’Art [Biennale of Contemporary African Art]
- Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
[Biennale of Contemporary African Art]
Dak’Art was established by the Senegalese government as the first art biennial in sub-Saharan Africa in 1989. Its mandate was to promote the latest examples of contemporary African art in Africa and create international visibility for it. Thus, it served as an important nexus between the African and international art worlds. Dak’Art’s growth in the 1990s coincided with the global expansion of the art world with regard to the proliferation of non-Western art biennials and new forms of cultural mediation. At its first iteration in 1990, Dak’Art was meant to alternate between literary and visual arts. It was a conventional art biennial in 1992, exhibiting works of artists from different parts of the world. In its third iteration, in 1996, Dak’Art transformed its institutional identity and became known as the pan-African biennial of contemporary African art. It focused almost exclusively on the works of African artists and those of the African diaspora. This transformation meant that Dak’Art considered contemporary African art as part of the mainstream art world while at the same time offering an alternative vision of how that world takes shape in Africa....