What can an art biennale in Dakar, Senegal, tell us about current discourses surrounding the place of art in the world, and in the academic study of anthropology? This volume investigates the Dak'Art biennale, ranked among the world's top 20 biennials, drawing upon fieldwork, archival research, and the experiences of those involved. In so doing, the chapters make a statement about the impact of globally-acting art biennials, contributing to current scholarship both on biennales and the anthropology of art scene more widely. 

Part I opens with the history of its foundation and considers it in conjunction with the rise of contemporary art in Senegal. Part II deals with the biennale's various objectives, selection strategies, exhibition spaces, platforms for debate, and discourses between the State, the secretariat and local artists and art world professionals. Part III examines the cyclical creation of contemporary African art, and questions if the Biennial creates local canonical practices. The Epilogue uses the Dak'art biennale to question assumptions around practice in general biennale scholarship and work. Featuring a dialogic structure between practitioners of art and anthropologists, this unique volume will be of interest to students of anthropology, art history and practice, African studies and curatorial practice.

chapter |17 pages


ByUgochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Thomas Fillitz

part I|46 pages

Historical Perspectives

chapter Chapter 1|15 pages

The Foundation and History of the Biennale of Dakar

ByUgochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

chapter Chapter 3|12 pages

The ‘Distancing Children’ From Senghor’s Openness Take a Stance

ByViyé Diba

part II|63 pages

Dak’Art – The Biennale Of Contemporary African Art

chapter Chapter 4|19 pages

Selection Committees, Selection Processes and Application Procedures

ByUgochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Fillitz Thomas

chapter Chapter 5|10 pages

Encounters and Exchanges: An Intellectual History of the Biennale of Dakar

ByEl Hadji Malick Ndiaye

chapter Chapter 6|14 pages

Dak’art and the Production of its Public

ByThomas Fillitz

chapter Chapter 7|11 pages

The Biennale of Dakar and the State of Senegal

BySylvain Sankalé

chapter Chapter 8|5 pages

Reimagining the Biennale of Dakar

ByKouoh Koyo, Eva Barois De Caevel

part III|42 pages

Contemporary African Art at Dak’Art

chapter Chapter 9|20 pages

The Making of a Canon: Historicizing Contemporary African Art at Dak’art

ByUgochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

chapter Chapter 11|6 pages

Dak’art’s Ecosystem: In and out of Senegal

ByIolanda Pensa