Dak'Art: Between Antinomies of Art and a New Global Art Canon
Thomas Fillitz (University of Vienna)
Paper short abstract:
Art experts today argue that biennials produce a new global art canon. This assumption will be examined from the perspective of Dakar's 'Biennale of Contemporary African Art.' Does the dominance of installation art imply such a global canon, and what is the impact on regional art practices?
Paper long abstract:
Some experts nowadays express a biennial fatigue—due to the unprecedented global overproduction of the biennial format that produces and replicates a biennial art, that is another universal canon of contemporary art. I argue that such considerations are the consequences of both the work of internationally acting curators as well as a Western European/North American centred view of experts on so-called world top biennial formats. I shall examine this assumption of a new universal contemporary art canon from the perspective of Dakar's 'Biennale of Contemporary African Art.' Of course, one could argue that Dak'Art has substituted curating regionalism to global multitude. More interesting is the assertion of antinomies of art as characteristic of present-day global contemporary art practices. Instead of restricting the Biennale to regional loyalties, this latter view indeed positions Dak'Art in a counter-discourse to the triadic connection biennial-biennial art-universal art canon. Yet, installation art has been dominating many editions of the Biennale's central venue, and since 2000 most of the grand prizes have been awarded to works of this art form. Insofar as some art theorists and biennial curators consider this art form as one of the two most important ones of the present, I thus shall investigate (a) whether this is due to dominant global art discourses, and (b) in which way this impacts on overall local and regional art practices of African artists.
Aesthetic encounters: the politics of moving and (un)settling visual arts, design and literature