Arts & Culture in Dakar, Senegal

This page is one that will be a work-in-progress throughout the course of our time in Dakar and beyond. We are hoping to compile information and resources on the richness of the culture and cultural institutions that the city and country have to offer. It is certainly a learning process but in our pre-departure research, we’ve noticed that information has been difficult to find. We’ve struggled to locate a comprehensive guide to cultural spaces in Dakar and hope that by the end of our time in the city will we will be able to centralize a lot of that information.

What we have here is a base-line understanding of the arts and cultural scene as gleaned from Internet research. The information below is heavily sourced from various sites on the Internet (all of which you can source at the end of this page). We hope you find this useful!

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Senegal has, of course, had a long history of arts and culture prior to independence but the nation’s first President, Leopold Senghor (elected in 1960) was known as the “poet President.” Senghor studied in Paris in the depression years and wrote poetry that contributed to the concept of Negritude. He was inspired by the Africa depicted by the Harlem Renaissance and European ethnographers. Senghor assisted in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and he organized the Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar in 1966. [1]

The World Festival of Negro Arts (Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, FESMAN)[2] was influential in its impact on the growth and proliferation of other institutions that were developed or redirected towards African traditions. Some such organizations include: the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa; the Houses of Youth and Culture; the craft village of Soumbedioune in Dakar, which has become a center for Senegalese sculpture and goldsmithing; the Dynamique Museum; the Daniel Sorano Theater; and the tapestry factory of Thie`s.[3]

In an article titled, “Artful Dakar” published by Travel Noire, the author acknowledges that although Dakar is most well known for is music and beautiful, tropical city-scape, it is also experiencing a growing and thriving, contemporary art scene. [4] The article explores the fashion, street art, and music scene in the city. The author highlights the professionalism, educational caliber, and craftsmanship of the designers. It continues to describe the way the medina is covered in street art. A collective of local artists, known as Yataal Art, works with local artists and families to decorate and many homes throughout the city. This project extends beyond just a beautification project but is also one of community engagement, development, and arts appreciation. Lastly, “Artful Dakar” emphasizes the nature of music on every corner of the city; from “mbalax, jazz, reggae, zouk, kora” music was at every turn.

Museums in Dakar

  • Armed Force Museum
    • “Military history buffs will of course be in their element here at 75 Boulevard de la République. Inside you’ll find an overview of Senegal history from a military perspective – which is especially instructive because Senegal has been unusually successful in Africa in staying free of military rule. There are three sections to the museum: the documents section; the area displaying the accoutrements of war including arms and uniforms; and a third dedicated to the subject of the tiralleurs, the Senegalese infantrymen recruited to fight for the French in wars from the 1850s through World War II.”[5]
  • Musse Boribana
    • Grass-roots museum’, seul musée dédié à l’art contemporain au Sénégal, Boribana se veut être le lieu de consécration des artistes plasticiens
  • Rue Musée Boribana
    • Rte du Front de Terre, Dakar, Senegal
    • In 1997, Pounder and her husband, Boubacar Koné, founded Senegal’s only contemporary art museum, the Musée Boribana, just outside Dakar. On display are works by local artists and pieces from the African diaspora in the United States, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, and Haiti. Pounder flies to Dakar twice a year to help Koné, the curator at Boribana, scout new artists. [6]
  • Centre Artisanal at the Cour des Orfevres
    • Avenue Jean Jaures near Orca. Centre Artisanal is a treasure trove of beads and necklaces, masks, ceremonial stools, wooden sculptures, silver, ebony and brass Tuareg jewelry, and a lot of cats.
  • Théodore Monod African Art Museum, IFAN Museum of African Arts
    • Rue Emile Zola, Dakar, Senegal
    • adult/child CFA2300/200[7]
  • The Théodore Monod African Art Museum[8]
    • Originally called TheMusée de l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire or IFAN Museum of African Arts
    • One of the oldest art museums inWest Africa; received strong supported by Senghor.
  • Musée de la Femme Henriette Bathily
    • The Museum of Women Henriette Bathily was created to publicize and inform visitors of  the place and role of Senegalese women in the Seneglaese communities, rituals and folk and traditional arts. It’s temporary exhibitions pay homage to women around the world.
    • Location: Place du souvenir
    • Entry: 1000 CFA (adults), about $1.70 USD
    • http://mufem.org/

Events, Festivals, and Happenings

DAK’ART (Biennale of Contemporary African Art) May – June 2016

  • May-June 2016. Takes place once every two years.
  • One of the main events on the African continent to devote its selection exclusively to artist living on and off the continent.
  • Established by the State of Senegal in 1989, with a first edition devoted to Literature in 1990, it will be dedicated to contemporary art in the second edition in 1992. One major event in Africa to devote himself exclusively to his selection of artist living on and off the continent, the Dakar Biennale continues its path. [9]

Artists:

  • Visual Artists:
    • Djibril Drame, commonly known as “Gadaay/GodEye” is a young visual artist, journalist, and publicist with over 10 years of experience. Djbril has exhibited his work both throughout Senegal and internationally, from Europe, to the United States, to Ivory Coast. Gadaay is among a creative network of trendsetters and young artists in Senegal. He aims to continue to share his expertise and experience by giving back to his community with the gelation of his Visual Art & Communications Academy. He dreams of brining the true image of Africa to the world, one country at a time and creative future ambassadors to continue this legacy
    • Ken Aicha Sy was born and raised in Senegal, mixed with a French-Martinique mother and Senegalese father: known as Ken to her friends and Akya to her readers. Ken is a Designer turned cultural blogger. Wakh’Art is her baby, a cultural platform that uses the art as a factor of development, as well as shine light on artists and the culture in Senegal.
  • Dance:
    • Germaine Acogny is a Senegalese-French dancer and choreographer. Acogny was born in Benin in 1944 and she moved to Dakar when she was six years old. She is considered the mother of contemporary African dance and has been creating contemporary dances with African roots for 40 years. She created her first dance studio in Dakar in 1968 and often attributes much of her influence to her grandmother, a Yoruba priest, and her training African and Occidental movement styles. Acogny formed her own technique and form of modern dance, which she published in 1980 in her book, African Dance. She has worked as a choreographer and artistic director in numerous companies, including Mudra Afrique, founded by Maurice Béjart and Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal’s first president. She opened Studio Ecole Ballet Théâtre du 3è Monde, in Toulouse and in 1997 she established L’École des Sables in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal. She is also the founder of Compagnie Jant-Bi, which performed in the 2008 Next Wave festival.
  • Cultural Entrepreneur & Activists:
    • Amadou Fall Bâ is a young Senegalese cultural operator and lynchpin of the cultural association Africulturban. He is also the Director of Festa2h (International Festival of Hip Hop and urban culture). Bâ is currently a Student in Master 2 in Arts and Cultures at ISAC (Higher Institute of Arts and Culture) where he is studying Arts Administration. Since March 2014, he has been the project manager of the Mayor of Dakar for urban cultures and at the same time director of the Maison Des Cultures Urbaines (MCU).

Informative and Useful Links:

 

[1] “Senegal.” Culture of. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[2] Moreno-Bunge, Sophia. “Third Ever World Festival Of Black Arts And Cultures In Dakar This Month (VIDEOS).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[3] “Senegal.” Culture of. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[4] “Artful Dakar – Travel Noire.” Travel Noire. N.p., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 23 June 2016.

[5] “Dakar: A Delight for Your Senses.” Iberia.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[6] By the Editors of Travel + Leisure. “Just Back from Senegal: CCH Pounder.” Travel + Leisure. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[7] “Musée Théodore Monod – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[8] “IFAN Museum of African Arts.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.

[9] “Vous Avez été Nombreux à Visiter La Biennale 2016.Merci!” Biennale De Dakar. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.