The African Biennale : envisioning ‘authentic’ African contemporaneity

Mauchan, Fiona (2009-03)

Thesis (MA (VA)(Visual Arts))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


This thesis aims to assess the extent to which the African curated exhibition, Dak’Art: Biennale de l’art africain contemporain , succeeds in subverting hegemonic Western representations of African art as necessarily ‘exotic’ and ‘Other.’ My investigation of the Dak’Art biennale in this thesis is informed and preceded by a study of evolutionist assumptions towards African art and the continuing struggle for command over the African voice. I outline the trajectory of African art from primitive artifact to artwork, highlighting the prejudices that have kept Africans from being valued as equals and unique artists in their own right. I then look at exhibiting techniques employed to move beyond perceptions of the tribal, to subvert the exoticising tendency of the West and remedy the marginalised position of the larger African artistic community.

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