"Democracy and common goods"Conductor:
AtWork Dakar is the first step of the project in Africa, organized in partnership with Kër Thiossane. It consisted of a workshop (May 8–9, 2012) led by artist Kan-Si and an exhibition (May 11–21, 2012) held at Institut Français du Sénégal – Galerie Le Manège. AtWork_Dakar is part of the Afropixel 3 festival, one of the Dak’Art Off events.
“Common goods may only exist in a self-aware community, wiling to act for its own development. In this sense, artists can be actively involved in the task of developing or creating narratives able to give new meaning to the concept of living together. […] Inviting Senegalese artists to express their views through the notebooks for the AtWork project was therefore a rightful act.”
Marion Louisgrand, Kër Thiossane Founder
The workshop brought together a group of young artists, designers, photographers, painters, graphic designers, and illustrators: Aboubacar Cisse, Jabir, Lamine Dieme, Jean Kalaya Loua, Alioune Fall, Khaly Diakhate, Georges Moise Cardozo, Galaye Diao, Ndiaga Diop, Boubacar Sonko, KaderDiakhate, Cheikh Yakhouba Sidibe, Fotini Gouseti, Fatima Diadhiou, Omar Diop, Oumar Diongue, Ndiaga Ndiaye, Khadidiatou Ba, Racine Gaye, and Bailla Théophile Ba. During the workshop, which took place immediately after the riots following the presidential elections in Senegal, participants were invited to design their notebooks, reflecting on the concepts of creative process, democracy, freedom of expression, common goods, social justice, human rights, and free licenses.
Senegalese artist Kan-Si has focused for many years on his own creative processes, while also promoting cultural development in Senegal through the creation of cultural centers across the country. Kan-Si’s projects establish a dialogue between local communities and artists. This is the reason why he was chosen as the first leader to translate AtWork format into the African context.
“The main theme for AtWork was established in a natural way: we had just come out of the election struggles, which had made us question the notions of Constitution, common good, democracy, freedom, social justice, human rights. The debate around these issues, which had tragically touched and concerned everybody, had aroused a great number of crucial questions. […] It was therefore obvious to me that organizing a workshop addressed to the young people of my country was a way to continue this debate, this time in a transcendent, calm, serene and reflective way.”
Kan-Si, AtWork Dakar leader
“Kan-Si is interested in working with a broader audience and not only artists. I found that part fascinating because the idea that I have of Dakar is that there is no limitation between life and art. Art is extending in life and life quite often is reflected through art.”
Fotini Gouseti, AtWork Dakar participant
The exhibition allowed viewers to move between different display modalities, which stimulated multiple forms of action and interaction with the works of art: from the materiality of the notebook pages designed during the workshop to the immateriality of the works of the online collection displayed on tablets. Notebooks were shown hanging from a tree in the courtyard of Galerie Le Manège; a sort of Arbre à Palabre, which pays homage to the tree as a meeting place for sharing stories and ideas.
AtWork Dakar provided the occasion for a first “interweaving” of places, times and subjects, making sense of experiences and identities by turning them into narratives.
This experience is described in the first chapter of the booklet dedicated to the AtWork project, under the title of AtWork Dakar 2012.
Cheikh Yakhouba Sidibe
Bailla Théophile Ba
Photo/video and display
Lucio Lazzara for Zeta Lab
Afa Balde, Samba Tounkara (Btach)