From a Juror

Statement from Res Artis delegate Gordon Knox

Dak’Art 2006
Gordon Knox: report from the jury.
Dakar Senegal, May 2006

We hit the ground running. Starting the first day that the complete jury assembled (Henry Meric Hughes, President of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), Great-Britain; Papa Ibra Tall, Director of the Senegalese Decorative Arts Factories of Thiés, Senegal; Carol Brown, head of the Durban Art Gallery, Durban, South Africa; Geeta Kapur, art critic and exhibition curator, New Delhi, India; and myself), we began a series of circles through the city, circles connecting the four biennale venues (The IFAN Museum, The National Gallery, The Douta Seck Hall of Culture and La Maison des Anciens Combattant) and allowing us to review and re-review the installations of some 100-plus artists from over as score of countries. Our circling was continuous and every time we returned to a venue new installations were completed and others were emerging.

But there was nothing circular with the work. The complexity, focus, depth and precision of the inquiry presented by these artists moved and stimulated our thinking, advancing and expanding an understanding of our world, ourselves and our participation in the great humanistic project. Piling into the car and heading off from one venue to the next, and round and round, discussions continued and it seemed we ate, drank and breathed the ideas stimulated by the work. It was as if we were suspended in a drifting zone of what was understood, implied and mis-understood. Curator Yacouba Konaté and General Secretary Ousseynou Wade had assembled an expansive and fascinating entry into the thoughts, intuitions and interpretations of an extraordinary collection of serious thinkers.

Our specific task was to review this exceptional array of work and try to determine which artist was most appropriate for each of the 8 prizes being awarded by the Biennale. The quality of the work and the diversity of approaches made this job difficult and there was discussion up to the last minute, indeed we were still negotiating amongst ourselves in the car in front of the Sorano Theater when the President’s motorcade arrived and forced closure on our discussion so that we could present the winners to the President to announce.

- Gordon Knox, 2006