PROGRAMME of the seminar for emerging autonomous creative spaces on the African continent


On the occasion of the 6th Biennale of Contemporary Art in Dakar, “Dak’ART”, in May 2004, Kër Thiossane in collaboration with the Artfactories international resource office, is organising a seminar for the emerging autonomous creative places on the African Continent from 11 to 13 May 2004.

Artfactories is a platform of international resources dedicated to autonomous art and cultural centres. Since September 2003, Kër Thiossane, centre for art and multimedia set up in Dakar, has worked as the Artfactories African antenna. On the website - - the database today presents and promotes more than 180 cultural centres, deriving from citizens’ artistic projects throughout the world. Far from being exhaustive, this repertoire is enriched after each meeting, exchange, contact, and link. At present, about fifteen experiences in Africa and in its Mediterranean basin are listed on the Artfactories’ website. Nevertheless. The antenna in Dakar is currently in contact with about 30 cultural operators in the African continent.

In a difficult social, economic and political context, citizens’ artistic projects never cease developing almost everywhere on the African continent (North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Africa, South Africa, Mediterranean). Strengthened by their beliefs, artists and artists’ co-operatives occupy spaces and build centres so that their works can take on life.

These new spaces of creation, experimentation, dialogue, discussion, meetings and diffusion are dedicated to new artistic, cultural or social practices. They operate as real research and creation’s laboratories on the African continent for contemporary artists, facilitate and encourage the emergence of new artistic propositions and a new African creative movement, close to its public, more free and independent. These multidisciplinary centres offer indispensable aid to emerging contemporary creation. Centres of life, these initiatives are close to local artists, and develop active relationships with communities and participation in the process of artistic creation, in training workshops, in debates. These new artistic approaches also come up against a multitude of questions, linked to urban development, education and co-operation, and participate in sustainable cultural development. Their specific local environments make these cultural and artistic spaces, emerging from all corners of Africa, very special places.

These centres are often isolated and far from each other. Project bearers in Africa therefore know very little or nothing of the existence of similar experiences beyond their frontiers. They encounter the same difficulties, even if they are in different environments. This new cultural set-up further encourages meetings between independent art centres springing up everywhere in the world, so that all project initiators can get to know each other and help each other.

This seminar would like to offer to the most of african projects located to date a time of meeting, of exchange of know-how and experiments to help them to perennializetheir projects, so that each one can nourish experiments of the ones and others, so that can circulate the artists and their projects...


All sessions (besides Thursday afternoon) are accessible only to the participants invited by Kër Thiossane and Artfactories.

Tuesday 11 May

12.30 A.M : Welcome in Kër Thiossane
Presentation of Kër Thiossane centre, its staff and its facilities.
From 1.00 to 9.00 P.M : Guided tour of cultural centres in Dakar and its surroundings

Wednesday 12 May

From 9.30 to 10.30 A.M : Foreword: Chantal Lamarre and Fazette Bordage (Artfactories)
10.30 A.M - 1.30 P.M : Presentation of each spaces/projects participants
Each space/project participant introduces itself ( in 10 minutes) by answering both questions below :
- Why did you create this space/project ?
- which are the major issues for your space today?

From 3.00 to 6.00 P.M : «Identities of the spaces/projects: to know each other, to dialogue, to exchange »
Some working groups will be proposed on the different issues that will have emerged in the morning session. Different themes linked to the centres will be approached such as : politics, environment, urban context, architecture, techniques, economy, functioning, organisation, networking, artistic and cultural projects...

Thursday 13 may

From 9.30 A.M to 1.30 P.M : « How to build together? »
After identifying each space/project and its operational modes, we will look into the possibilities of “building together” in order to define eventual common perspectives: how to be a political force but also a force of reflexion, a potential of development, as to strengthen their legitimacy. The missions of the Artfactories’ African antenna (Kër Thiossane) will be exposed to the participants ; it is meant to act as a resource and information desk offering a basis for further development and structuration of these dynamics. Together participants will be invited to explore the possible actions on the African territory.

From 3.00 to 6.00 P.M : Public open discussion at Kër Thiossane
Presentation of spaces/projects as medium of artistic, cultural, professional, economic and sustainable development.
Dialogue with several representatives of cultural public institutions in Senegal, and with diverse foundations and partners who have support ed the seminar (Ford Foundation, Africalia, Prins Claus Fund....)

From 9.00 P.M to 2.00 A.M : Closure dedicated to digital arts at Kër Thiossane

- presentation of the interactive installations of Philippe Monvaillier : “Cyberfétiche” and “Sanzationnel”
- interactive dance performance
- digital sculptures

During the working groups, Artfactories, platform of international resources dedicated to creative autonomous spaces, will provide examples of similar practices in others continents.

During the seminar Kër Thiossane will be the resource place in Dakar on independent art and cultural centres in Africa and throughout the world. A documentation space will be accessible to the public from the 11 to 13 may.

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Modified on Thursday 7 October 2004