Nii B. Andrews.

There have been many strident calls for a paradigm shift in our thoughts and actions if we are to survive as a species on this pale blue dot within the vast cosmos.

The need to rethink, recalibrate and reinvent is particularly urgent for those of us in West Africa – with its poor and dehumanizing infrastructure, incipient conflicts, and coterie of incompetent and arrogantly corrupt poliTRIKcians.

*****ADZISUAZI, Patrick Tagoe – Turkson, Adzisuazi, Polished cotton, acrylic paint, cotton yarns, stranded cotton; 81 9/10 × 81 9/10 in, 208 × 208 cm, 2003****

For example, the architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara, founder of the Niger-based architecture firm atelier masōmī is forging ahead with the Bët-bi project located close to Dakar.

Kamara views Bët-bi as an opportunity to rethink the “typology” of museum spaces. “I’m not sure the typology of the museum in the Western sense is appropriate for most of the world,” she told The Art Newspaper.

Even before the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, the seminal Dakar Biennale – which opens today had been planned with the theme, NDAFFA – FORGER – OUT OF THE FIRE.

The primary goal is for us to reinvent our models by utilizing the “diversity of contemporary African creativity while projecting new ways of telling and understanding Africa.”

This drive acknowledges the dynamics and action of creating, recreating and kneading in order to ensure/? forge a transformation “to the deposit from which the raw material comes, and to the fire that creates”.

In actuality, what is envisaged is an act of consecration  – or again forging, an “act of transforming one or more materials brought to incandescence in a fire, for the purpose of creating new forms, textures and materialities, and thereby, a new world.”

Need we remind ourselves yet again that the mythical/ ur blacksmith – or artificer in metals is a civilising hero in multiple world cultures? We ought to be familiar with the examples from Africa and beyond.

The current 14th Biennale edition provides new vistas in its programming, thereby enhancing its professional activities and involving new audiences while consolidating its international reach; a renewed and modernized visual identity is being effected.

*****Senegalese artist Yakhya Ba’s work is a powerful study of the tragedy faced by migrants and their families JOHN WESSELS AFP*****

This year’s Biennale will showcase works from more than 2,500 artists across 85 countries.

There are also some 300 exhibits in the capital and nearby islands of Ngor and Goree, as well as around 100 in other towns and countries of the diaspora.

Artistic director El Hadji Malick Ndiaye asked 17 artists to produce monumental works to interact with locations along Senegal’s coast, from fishing villages to universities and prisons.

With war in Europe in addition to other established and long ignored tragic conflicts elsewhere, creeping food insecurity and famine in many places, a climate emergency, vacuous and distracting celebrities, threats to and marginalisation of minorities; Ndiaye states emphatically, “When weapons crackle, we must make sure culture does too.”

The Biennale runs till June 21st 2022.

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