Dak'Art 2008: Nigeria Day advocates tripartite art show
By Tajudeen Sowole, in Dakar, Senegal
(First published in May, 2008)
The presence of Nigeria's official art exhibition at the eighth biennial, Dak'Art 2008, currently on in Dakar, Senegal, appeared to have motivated consideration for a joint art event between three countries.
This was muted at the Nigeria Day segment of the 'Off' event, the ambassadors of Nigeria and South Africa to Senegal, Azuka Cecilia Uzoka Emejulu and Thembisele Majola Embalo, as well as the Director-General of Galerie Nationale d'Art, Senegal, Mame Diedhiou explained the diverse areas African nations can work together to attain greatness for the continent. They stated that Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa can organise a joint art exhibition, in future.
The Nigeria Day was a National Gallery of Art (NGA)-organised art exhibition, Naija, An Exhibition of Contemporary Nigerian Art, at the biennial, Dak’Art, Senegal on May 12 2008.
|Chief Frank Okonta, Ambassador of South Africa to Senegal, Thembisele Majola Embalo, Emejulu and Dr Tandoh.|
Emejulu stated that “this exhibition has shown how much we want to get involved in Dak'Art. We have always taken part, but this year, we have come in grand style. It encourages cooperation among Nigeria and Senegal."
Embalo summed it up: "This shows that cooperation among Africans can move the continent forward. African intervention is a reality, but we have to know where our culture is coming from so that we can use it to better our people. I hope that in future, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal can work together to organise a joint art exhibition like this.
The president of Art Gallery Association of Nigeria, AGAN, Chief Frank Okonta used the gathering to inform guests about the forthcoming African Regional Summit on Visual Arts and Exhibition (ARESUVA), which holds in Abuja between September 7 to 13 2008.
While declaring the exhibition opened, Emejulu said such cultural initiative, particularly outside the nation would continue to receive the support of the federal government.
“It is in the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria to support an event like this. It is my honour to declare this art exhibition opened which is the first of its kind in Senegal. The embassy of Nigeria in Senegal is ready to support similar shows in the future,” she said.
Also commending the effort of the Nigerian government in organising the event, Diedhiou said Naija, An Exhibition of Contemporary Nigerian Art has confirmed Nigeria's consistence in being part of the event.. She also said Senegal was looking forward to future collaboration with Nigeria.
|Kolade Oshinowo, a dutch artist, Bisi Silva and Tajudeen Sowole at Dak'Art 2008|
Emejulu however urged the NGA and participating artists or any other people who may want to organise such event in the future to always carry the embassy along early enough to ensure a more successful outing.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony of the one week long exhibition, the director of research and education of NGA, Dr. Kweku Tandoh noted that the biennial’s selection of just one Nigeria among the 35 short list of artists for the main exhibition was not a true reflection of the abundant talent of the country. Naija, An Exhibition of Contemporary Nigerian Art, he said, is to send the message that Nigeria abundant talents. “This is to make a statement to the organisers that Nigeria deserves more than one artist in the main event. We believe that the works on display here today will give a quality representation of the creativity abound in the country,” Tandoh explained.
During the opening of the main event, the memory of the late Senegalese poet and politician Leopold Sédar Senghor reverberated at the Theodore Monod African Art Museum, Dakar, Senegal where the opening ceremony was held. The President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade who chaired the opening ceremony placed African and Western art on pedestal and gave his verdict.
The president's argument, apparently, was a tribute to Senghor who is known for his strong campaign of African cultural supremacy.
He stated that Dak’Art has become a world
event and described art as "a powerful medium and a light which brightens the future."
On art within racial context, the president asked: "We speak of first art, why not Negro art?" He pointed out that it is not a "negritude
claim but one of a Negro-African civilization."
He drew a line between Western art and Negro art, arguing the one is for aesthetics and the other for action. Art, the president stressed is the best link between peoples.