If it can be viewed in football terms, the Dak’Art Biennial of African Contemporary Art held in Dakar- the home of the Lions of Teranga, is in the same league with the African Cup of Nations. It is the grandest gathering of visual artists from every corner of the continent and this year’s event that was also the 7th edition was filled with spectacular artworks.
The port city of Dakar was turned into one massive visual art exhibition space where artists were bold and blunt in their visually discussion and interrogation of Africa: Agreements, Allusions and Misunderstandings.
“The artworks gathered in this edition of the Dakar Biennial evoke themes as varied as urbanity and ecology, politics and globalization, spirituality and identity,” noted Yacouba Konate, the Dak’Art 2006 General Curator in an interview.
The biennial was dominated by installations and new media art that showed the artists’ ingenious ways to play around with objects to develop impressive pieces.
“My central subject in my various pieces is love,” Vita Emmanuel Eni, a lively Nigerian sculptor/painter pointed out in an interview with Kymsnet Features a few hours before flying back to his base in Germany. “However, the history of love has known a lot of turmoil where it has in some instances won and other times lost terribly. I have attempted to capture this in my work and the Israel/Palestine installation is just to magnify this conflict of hate and vengeance.”
At the opening of the 7th edition of the Biennale, Eni had captured everyone in Dakar including the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who was the guest of honour, with his installation of bombs often used by the suicide bombers. He had a wonderful performance to accompany his installation and there was no doubt what he was saying about the Middle East.
The Israel/Palestine question has troubled the world for a long time and the current tension that came with the Hamas win of the last election has not helped matters. The tension is bound to continue growing and with it draw in more players far and near
“The conflict has drawn many players beyond the Middle East and the African continent has not been left behind,” Eni noted as he kept repeating the hate and vengeance mantra. “It keeps coming to you and you cannot fail to take notice. As an artist I have chosen to do an installation because I am afraid of the result of this conflict of hate and vengeance.”
He added: “The images that we keep on encountering in our television are stressful and these images even appear in my dreams.”
It is not just Eni, who looked at the question of war and peace. Bel Haj Taib from Tunisia had an eye-catching work or art. A fragile multi-media piece, Bel Haj’s sculpture/installation dubbed “Parading for Peace” composed of several tortoises made from soldiers helmets and in a symbolic and yet contradictory postures that leaves you with no doubt that it is a military parade hopefully for piece.