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Kader Attia’s Water-Themed Sharjah Biennial Project in Dakar

Paris-born French-Algerian artist Kader Attia is presenting the first of the four Sharjah Biennial 13 (SB13) off-site projects at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal on January 8 and 9. Titled “Vive l’Indépendance de l’Eau” [Long Live the Independence of Water], the project consists of a program of workshops, symposiums, and performances based around the keyword “water.”


Taking place within SB13’s wider exploration of the fundamental elements of human existence, the project focuses on two polarized understandings of water – the cultural and the political. According to the press release, “poetry, magic and animist beliefs are explored alongside issues of power, control, economy, colonial legacies and hegemonic modernities.”


Echoing the coastal position of Sharjah, the program’s location of the Atlantic port town of Dakar in the Cap-Vert Peninsula places the two cities of Dakar and Sharjah in dialogue with each other. Drawing on “modern-day environmental and ecological concerns,” the project traces their connection to the “historically rooted grievances of the ‘Global South’.” 


Day one of the program, titled “Beliefs and Knowledge,” draws on film, architecture, image, and text to investigate the relationship between water and traditional animist and contemporary rationalist beliefs. Contributors include Rachida Madani, Pierre Amrouche, Dr Ibrahima Sow, Christoph Keller, Marcel Dinahet, Samia Rab, Yasmine Terki, and Nadine Bilong.


Day two, which also features music and poetry, is titled “About the Everyday Life's Political Control of Liquidity.” The program focuses on addressing socio-political and historical understandings of water, in particular its ethical dimension. Contributors include Kemi Bassene, Ali Haidar, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, Hito Steyerl, Seloua Luste Boulbina, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, and Aliocha Imhoff.


Symposium / Performance Schedule

Sunday, 8 January

·  Introduction by Hoor Al Qasimi, Christine Tohme and Kader Attia

·  Architect Historian Samia Rab: Sea coast architectures and the oceans rise

·  Filmmaker Marcel Dinahet: Film screening followed by conversation with Kader Attia

·  Artist and Hydrologist Christoph Keller: Lecture and screening of the film Anarcheology

·  Prof. Ibrahima Sow: The relation between water and sand through divination performances by traditional healers with water, sand and cauris

·  Prof. Ibrahima Wane: Music and literature lecture about water beliefs


Monday, 9 January

·  Artist and activist Kemi Bassene Lecture with Ali Haidar

·  Artist Theorist Hito Steyerl: Screening of the film Liquidity

·  Rachida Madani and Pierre Amrouche: Poem Lecture

·  Lorenzo Pezzani, Charles Heller and Pape Nembe Fall: Film, lecture and Q&A

·  Lecture by Prof. Malik Diouf and live performance of Serer songs by village women

·  Closing words by Hoor Al Qasimi, Kader Attia and Christine Tohme


Vive l’Indépendance de l’Eau will take place at Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal.