"Just like the city, art is created by people. The two can exist separately from one another and can develop independently of one another because, in essence, art is an individual act, while the city functions in community. In Africa, you see that the population explosion - more than the half of the population is currently under the age of sixteen - is leading to a new municipal, racially mixed, creative culture. In this kaleidoscopic society, art can open a dialogue between different cultures, people and customs.
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, over half the world's population has lived in cities. They must find a way to manage within new living structures and want to express themselves in new identities. At the same time, in rural areas, there are archaic visions and negative notions, certainly viewed from the municipal perspective of consumption and communication. Fantasy and imagination have more charge - something Doual'art wants to capitalise on with its projects.
Perhaps the connection between the city and the imagination is most clear if we speak about art in the public space. I consider responsibility a core concept here: artistic quality must be linked to an effort to create a social impact. In Douala, which with more than two million residents is the economic centre of Cameroon and the largest port in West Africa, the public space is considered a no man’s land that at the same time belongs to everyone. Part of this neglect is caused by a lack of interest on the part of managers and city planners, which has led to a political laissez-faire attitude with relation to the city’s public areas. The population reacts to this by using streets, parks and squares in a spontaneous and informal method.
In this discordant situation, a public art work that appeals to both the city's residents and to bureaucrats can create a collective awareness of the value and meaning of the public space. In fact, what it comes down to is that everyone's dreams and representations are stimulated simultaneously with a collective purpose. In December of 2010, Doual’art will hold the second Salon Urbain de Douala. This event brings together artists, city residents, architects, managers, writers, exhibitors and designers to collectively discuss various municipal problems. This year, the main theme of the event is "water and the city". There will be a number of presentations of preparatory studies and art projects, and a wide range of activities for coming up with concrete solutions."
Doual'art is an Artscollaboratory partner.
Jeroen van der Zalm