“Ĩ NDAFFA/FORGER/CREATIVE FIRE” is the theme of this 14th Biennial of Contemporary African Art; It refers to the foundational process of African creation, which nourishes the diversity of contemporary African creativities, while projecting new ways of narrating and apprehending Africa
Ĩ NDAFFA, in Serer language spoken in Senegal, denotes the dynamics and the act of creating, re-creating and refining. It refers to the forge that transforms, to the ore with which to create the new material; and the labor and fire inherent in the process of creativity. Ĩ NDAFFA consecrates the act of transforming one or more materials brought to incandescence in a fire, in order to create new shapes, textures and materials and by this gesture, a new world.
Ĩ NDAFFA draws from the creation of mythologies within a re-imagined Africa in which knowledge must be apprehended in quantum geography in order to affirm African contemporaneities rich in creativity and synthesis thereby bringing worlds into existence
By these means, Ĩ NDAFFA as forging or creating “out of fire” is not here in the sense of constructing a facsimile, but in returning to this original space of creativity, the forge, to construct new narratives and new tools for apprehending Africa.
It is therefore a question of constructing new aesthetic writings, new knowledge and know-how that integrate the African readings of the world as well as those of the other geographical and cultural areas. These allow the forging of shared tools to meet contemporary challenges such as the need of constantly renewed meaning with which to grasp the complexity of the world. This undertaking will be carried through the following points:
- Exploring the knowledge deposits of the African continent and revisiting the archives. Dak’Art 2020 wishes to capture the plurality of knowledge. If the latter is an expression often postulated, the possibility of plural knowledge is scantly constructed and arranged so as to be transmitted in the academic and social space. It is through the exploration of languages, sayings and grammars of creation that Ĩ NDAFFA invites the world in a time of re-imagining Africa. If reality is to be re-apprehended, it is necessary to re-articulate our relationship to memory, history and therefore archives. If historians, experience the difficulty of negotiating the concepts of veracity and truth as to the interpretation of sources, the artist can reverse the temporalities and establish another type of relationship to archives.
- Rejecting historical discontinuities. The temporalities fixed by the History of Art (Antiquity, Middle Ages and Modern Times) as well as the areas of history retained as benchmarks must be rethought from the point of view of African history. The styles and sequences drawn by the periods relating to modern and contemporary art must be reviewed and criticized through African history. The contemporary must cease to be perceived in a chronological sequence with respect to the simultaneously universalizing and neutralizing modern. The possibility of conceiving the history of art as an evolution of the use of materials is to be conceived. Our interaction with materials contains an evolution of thought about the world to construct new realities.
- Establishing a relationship with the body and the creative gesture. Knowledge is experimental in the sense that it constantly pushes its limits. If art – as a language and medium of knowledge – helps us to think, it is necessary to consider the creative gesture as bearer and witness of this form of human intelligence. The gesture and the body – in artistic performance – thus extend the idea that African art is a philosophy.