States of Opacity. Art, Politics and New Social Imaginaries. International Symposium at Dakart 2016

Dyangani Ose, Elvira and Ambrožič, Mara. 2016. 'States of Opacity. Art, Politics and New Social Imaginaries. International Symposium at Dakart 2016'. In: States of Opacity. 12th Dakart biennial. Dakar, Senegal. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

States of Opacity.
Art, Politics and New Social Imaginaries
Curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose and Mara Ambrožič

States of Opacity is a project for the 12th edition of the Dak’Art Biennial 2016, in collabo-ration with Chimurenga, Archive Books and Mode D-Republic. The curators would like to thank the generous support and collaboration of individuals at: the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; the Department of Politics of Stockyard Insti-tute of Chicago; the Department of Arts of Geneva University of Art and Design, and the Department of Arts, University of Dublin.

In his quest for a Poetics of Relation —namely, a poetics, that is free of norms, goals and methods, as much as it is open, participatory, and is directly in contact with everything pos-sible— Édouard Glissant urges us to claim the Right to Opacity. Opacity here would make reference to the possibility of every individual to claim a plural and mutable identity, an essential condition for a new sense of collectivism to emerge. History is constituted of a myriad of episodes of unachieved utopias, in the manner of movements of sociocultural and political solidarity, among them, revolutionary movements such as Black Internationalism, the Non-Aligned Movement, the politics of Négritude and the so-called Bandung Spirit.

All of these experiences were impregnated with moments in which those involved in those processes strongly believed in change; moments in which imagination and purposefulness were the condition of possibility for the establishment of a new social order. Conflicting memories and interpretations apart, these movements constituted genuine cultural alterna-tives to all forms of human activities, particularly in relation to education, culture and polit-ical representation.

In that respect, as a parallel reflection onto the theme of this edition of the Dak’Art, which proposes the city of Dakar — in history and in the present — as the centre of the formula-tion of new critical reflections and socio-political utopias, this international public program explores aspects of art and collectivism, while reclaiming the political dimension of Opacity as a state to long for. In restoring, the premises of the so-called Bandung Spirit, how can we engage with its values, its ethics, without falling into a seeming nostalgia? What is the lega-cy of challenging philosophical endeavors turn into questionable political ventures, such as Négritude? How do these aspirations affect specific cultural and artistic strategies and so-cially conscious practices? How can we construct new forms of collective work, and what is the role of art —its agents and its institutions— in that equation?

States of Opacity invites a prominent group of cultural agents and producers —artists, artist collectives, curators, writers, intellectuals, scholars, economists, and political thinkers. They formulate their agency beyond the limits of a canonical criticism, to engage with socio-political, artistic and cultural processes for the reinvention of history, memory, futurity and the common good. Ethics and art, as Theodor Adorno sustained, are major driving forces towards the foundation of the New. And the emergence of such Newness in its full social and political dimension can only take place by means of initiatives that observes Opacity as a condition a priori. Thus, if these premises can be assumed as the new horizon from where to imagine and to establish a sense of purpose, time has come for a challenge towards the for-mulation of new forms and states of collectiveness.

States of Opacity consists in a publication and an international meeting, which explores the themes above mentioned through new commissions and existing essays, as well as a com-prehensive bibliography aiming to compile a corpus of texts written in the past decades. Re-sponding critically to the legacy of these moments, the scope of this project is to provide the readership with an atlas of ideas linked to existing or imagined States of Opacity.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


May 2016Published

Event Location:

Dakar, Senegal

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Apr 2018 08:36

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:45


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