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Culture - Arts

African contemporary art festival to open in Dakar

afrol News, 4 May - From tomorrow and for one entire month, the Senegalese capital will be organising the 7th Biennale of Africa Contemporary Art; Dak'art. Since its inauguration in 1992, the Dakar biennale is consolidated into becoming the leading international art event of the entire region. This year's edition especially features the late Senegalese poet and ex-President Léopold Sédar Senghor, but also gives space to represent 87 other artists from 27 countries.

This new edition of the Dak'art biennale is set to strongly outgrow all earlier celebrations of the festival. As Dak'art in 2002 presented some 40 artists from 13 African countries, the 2006 edition more than doubles that number. The 87 exposing artists are from 27 African countries: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasa, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Together with this broad spectre of African contemporary artists, Dak'art is to focus of artwork by African in the Diaspora. These include famous names such as Jack Beng-Thi, Louis Cameron, Arjan Martins, Kori Newkirk, Senam Okudzeto, Keith Piper and William L Pope.

The host country, Senegal, counts on the largest representation of its own young artists, totalling 11: Ba Cheikhou, Cisse Soly, Diop Djibril André, Keita Souleymane, Lo Ndary, Niang Serigne Mor, Niang Ibrahima, Niang Babacar, Sarr Bassirou, Seydi Mamady and Sy Amadou Kane. Following Senegal is Côte d'Ivoire with eight artists; South Africa and Congo Kinshasa with six each.

The official selection of the 87 artists that are to exhibit their works at the seventh Dakar contemporary art biennale was made by the general commissariat responsible for the Dak'art exhibitions. The group included art professionals from the entire continent, led by Commissioner Yacouba Konaté from Côte d'Ivoire. Mr Konaté was aided by Celestin Badibanga representing Central Africa; Youma Fall representing Senegal; Amy Horshack representing America; Abdellah Karroum representing North Africa; Barbara Murray representing Southern Africa; Marie-Brillar Syring representing Europe; and Olabisi Silva representing East Africa.

"Given the large number of countries that are represented, the current edition of the exhibition is considered the most ambitious of any of those celebrated until now, during the ten year history of the biennale," Dak'art general commissioner Konaté proudly stated.

Following the tendencies of earlier edition of Dak'art, the participating artists this year offer an ample variety of art modalities, including both traditional styles such as paintings and sculptures and more modern expressions, some opting for installations and interior design.

Simultaneously with the official organisation of the Dak'art festival, there have been announced a large number of parallel events in Dakar, also fundamentally dedicated to contemporary African art. Among these events are the saloon of design that includes a "journey of reflection over design"; another journey (on 11 May) dedicated to the Senegalese poet and politician Senghor; and an encounter between professionals on the art market, among many other activities.

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