Endless possibilities of craftsmanship: A personal account of the 14th Dakar Biennale

Earlier in March, I decided that I was going to be at the 14th Dakar Biennale. I had been following the exhibition on Instagram for a while and the theme of this edition was so compelling I wanted to experience it in real-time. The theme Ĩ NDAFFA #, is the Wolof term for forger/out of fire.

The biennale was such a beautiful experience for me because I could connect with the theme and how every single artwork there addressed pressing issues around us, our environment and the community. The exhibition was able to bridge the gap between the older and younger generation through some of the works presented.

My key takeaways from the event include an expanded awareness of the possibilities of craftsmanship and the extent to which the artist can use materials to tell stories of our past. It unlocked a world of infinite prospects for me and showed me how important it is for us to tell our own stories the way we know them best.

The highlight of the event for me was meeting with the biennale’s artistic director, El-hadji Malick Ndiaye. It was an insightful meeting as I was able to learn more about the exhibition from his point of view. We spoke at length about our similarities as Africans and how the concept of a border is rather imaginary because we see ourselves everywhere, no matter where we are and in this case, West Africa.

I attended a couple of off-projects at the biennale. I caught the last day of the Black Rock Senegal 40 exhibition, which was a group exhibition by the artists-in-residence and local Senegalese artists. Works from Yagazie Emezi, Kambui Olujimi and Moses Hamborg were some of my favourites.

I have tried picking a favourite artwork but I could not. A lot of the art on display really made me feel something through the various media they were presented in, the messages they carry, and the stories they represent.

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