South Africa | 26.10.2020
During the pandemic, Senegalese graffiti artists committed themselves to fight against the coronavirus pandemic with their art to inform the populations on how to avoid spreading the virus, giving birth to a real movement Dapper Foundation, noticing both the high quality of this artistic production and the social impact of the graffiti, decided to create “Le graffiti pour sauver des vies” eBook to remember what has been done.
Aude Leveau Mac Elhone, Dapper Foundation Secrétaire Générale has satisfied our curiosity by answering questions about the eBook and the Foundation.
Where to download the free eBook:
AAAA: What inspired the ebook?
Aude: During the lock-down period, I started to see pictures of coronavirus graffiti artworks on Instagram. The first thing that struck me was the high quality of this artistic production. After discussing with some local artists, I realised that the number of graffiti in the streets of Dakar was starting to be high, giving birth to a real movement that needs to be remembered. In these difficult times, with all our projects postponed, this ebook was an interesting way to link art and the current events. In a period where art is far from a priority for people, it is still very useful.
AAAA: Why Graffiti in specific?
Aude: One of the specificities of graffiti is that it is very often temporary: the paintings on the walls disappear over time or with rain, dust or wind. I found it important to contribute to the memory of these artworks, which are not meant to last. An ebook was the perfect tool for that.
Also, graffiti is a socially engaged art that does not have as much visibility in the art sector as other fields such as sculpture, photography or painting. Dapper wanted to contribute to the recognition of street art in Senegal.
AAAA: What impact had/is having on the people in the country?
Aude: Historically, graffiti has always been a means of mass communication in Senegal, particularly for health prevention purposes. While painting on the walls of popular neighborhoods, graffiti artists also explain to the population what they are doing and why together with distributing alcohol-based hand rub and masks. Images with protections measures made with bright colors catch the eye and are easy to understand for everybody, including illiterate persons.
Generally speaking, street art is very accessible as there is no need to push the doors of a museum or art gallery. It comes to your eyes, in the streets or on the internet. That allows us to reach a wide audience, from local pedestrians walking by the paintings to the web community through social media when it is photographed and reposted by Senegalese people.
AAAA: How did you measure the impact of it?
Aude: We received many feedbacks from people in Senegal and abroad, including doctors, which were very enthusiastic. As mentioned, communication through graffiti for health purposes is not something new, it has been used in the past for HIV or malaria. This is because the impact on the population is real, it is a cost-effective communication tool. The only new thing is maybe the scale of the movement: there is so much enthusiasm from various populations – the man on the street, medical staff, institutions, politics, media, art specialists…-!
The ebook also provides historical elements about graffiti in Senegal and studies its particularities. It also analyses the art production in the very specific context of the pandemic. Interviews with Ati Diallo, a graffiti specialist and the graffiti artists Docta and MadZoo are also included.
About the Foundation
The Dapper Foundation has been committed for 35 years in fostering the arts from Africa, the Caribbean and their Diasporas. In its Paris-based museum and abroad, the foundation has designed and shown around 50 exhibitions of ancient art from important public and private collections including the foundation’s collection itself.
A few years ago, they decided to focus more on raising the awareness of a new range of public, especially in Africa and in the Caribbean becoming nomadic.
Since then, they have presented various free exhibitions in Senegal and in Martinique and evolved their publishing activities offering digital art books available to all, for free.
This allows them, together with the free exhibitions, to reach not only art connoisseurs but also new audiences who do not necessarily have easy access to art.
Also, the Dapper collection is one of the world’s most important ones in the field of African ancient arts, thus, we grant loans for temporary exhibitions. Currently, some pieces of art of the collection can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or at the Musée de l’Homme and Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
AAAA: Tell us about your next project(s)
Aude: As it is the case for all of us, some of our projects are postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, so the visibility at its best for us. We are looking forward to undertaking new innovative collaborations, particularly in Africa and/or in the Caribbean.
Our next main project will be an exhibition in spring 2021 at the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris) on Cameroonian artist Barthelemy Toguo. This will be his first solo show in a French institution. His work will be shown with ancient African art, encouraging visitors’ reflection on the dialogue between both arts. To be honest, we are very happy to develop digital resources, yet, whenever possible, we believe that art also needs to be seen “for real”…Hence, we are really looking forward to being able to hold events again too!
About Aude Leveau Mac Elhone
Aude is the General Secretary of the foundation. As part of a small structure, she has a broad range of activities: curating exhibitions, leading our communication activities and taking part with the Director of the foundation of the implementation of our new strategy as a nomadic institution. As a former lawyer, she is also in charge of the legal aspects in connection with the foundation.
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