chapter  Chapter 1
15 Pages

The Foundation and History of the Biennale of Dakar

WithUgochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

This chapter explores the motivations, as well as the sociopolitical, economic and cultural conditions in Dakar and elsewhere that may have spurred the emergence of Dak’Art as a major international exhibition with its specific brand of cultural politics. As such, it considers the conflation of actors, events, ideological and intellectual perspectives that catalysed Dak’Art either directly or indirectly. The Biennale reaffirms that cultural diplomacy has always been part and parcel of the enunciation of national development since the country’s independence in 1960. From inception, Dak’Art was set up as an elaboration of Senegal’s cultural policy agenda. Negritude was the ideological foundation of Senghor’s cultural policy. A modernist movement, it insisted on the recuperation and deployment of assumed African cultural roots as a basis for modern literature, philosophy and visual arts. Critics of Negritude have long viewed it as an essentializing racial ideology which romanticized Africa.