Arts Collaboratory


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Arts Collaboratory 2nd Assembly in Senegal

Visit with Issa Samb at his studio. Photo: Alex Rubeola
Arts Collaboratory Assembly Plenary, Espace Sobo Bade. Photo: Paula Piedra

The Senegal Assembly 2015 was dedicated to making Arts Collaboratory a further collective endeavor in which the participating organizations started envisioning the future together. Building on the communal bonds formed at the previous Assembly in Indonesia which laid the groundwork for the collaborative projects. The 23 participating organizations were co-hosted by the Dakar-based Arts Collaboratory organizations Kër Thiossane and Raw Material Company who with the collaboration of the Arts Collaboratory Partners, DOEN, Hivos, and Casco – Office for Art, Design, and Theory, organized a series of visits to different institutions around the country and put together a plan for internal workshops and public program.

Building the future vision
Sketching a common future vision for Arts Collaboratory after 2015 and elaborating further on the Collaborative Projects were the two main foci of the workshops. As the network was reaching the end of current funding cycle due to the increasing affinity and trust between the organizations, the network had the opportunity to collectively determine its future form and aims. This process facilitated by the AC Partners, began by working in small groups to list the passions and obstacles  – a method developed by Site of Unlearning: Art Organization, a collaborative research by the Casco team and artist Annette Krauss - that each organization had in relation to Arts Collaboratory. Through the analysis of these qualities which included time, working/being together, and trust, a better understanding of the needs and desires of the participants emerged. These laid the foundation for constructing a future vision and resulted in four prototype models developed by three different groups at the end of the Assembly. On a premise of trust, six of the organizations decided to meet again in June in the Netherlands to continue the process and synthesize the models with feedback from the entire network to form a new proposal for the future.

Furthering Collaborative Projects
Parallel with the meetings on the future were ongoing discussions on the Collaborative Projects, that continued a process of deepening their cooperation and a refining of methodologies for each group. More details on the focus of the projects and aims of the research can be found at the following links: Arts Schoolaboratory; Territories Working Group: Lobby Research Project; Here and Now: A Collaborative Video Art Vision; Minga, Exploring Utopia.

Learning from local practices
During the Assembly the meetings were held in the spaces of the co-hosts Raw Material Company and Kër Thiossane as well as Espace Sobo Bade in Toubab Dialaw. To engage further with the context and learn about the diverse cultural production in Senegal, Arts Collaboratory participants visited Le Village des Arts de Dakar, Les Colombins, Atelier Céramiques Almadies, Portes et Passages, Ecole des SablesGorée Institute, The House of Slaves and the studio of artist Issa Samb among others. The hip hop group and political activists from the Y'en a Marre movement talked with group their campaigns and movement to change both the political landscape, which lead to the defeat of the President Abdoulaye Wade in the 2012 elections, but also inspiring new modes of living for the younger generation.

Public Forum
A public forum was also held at Librairie Athéna in Dakar as a means of exchange between those working in the Senegalese context and the experiences of the Arts Collaboratory members. The evening, titled, “Commons, Networks, and Models of Alternative Organizations in Culture,” focused on commons and practice in diverse localities, was moderated by Ibrahima Wane and included presentations by the partners and participants of Arts Collaboratory and anthropologist Abdourahmane Seck. For more information on the public forum please follow this link.

For further insight into the Assembly, meetings, future process, collaborative projects and visits, reports by a number of the participants are available to download below in English, Spanish and French.