By International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM)
Published June 10, 2014
A contemporary art gallery in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, has been closed due to vandalism and pressure from religious groups.
The gallery, known as Raw Material Company, was vandalised on May 13, 2014 after hosting a queer-themed exhibition as part of an independent programme of Dak’art 2014, the 11th Biennial of Contemporary African Art (May 9–June 8, 2014) and co-organised by artistic director Koyo Kouoh and independent curator Ato Malinda.
Raw Material Company, that co-hosted the exhibition titled ‘Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness’, was forced to interrupt the show due to continuous pressure and acts of violence from the religious community on May 31, 2014.
“We are against such pressures on any cultural institution dedicated to promoting the principles of artistic expression and freedom,” Barcelona (Spain)-based International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM), says in a petition to the Senegalese Ministry of Culture. “We consider it the duty of the authority to defend any public or private initiative endeavouring to promote these principles.”
CIMAM says “The programming of art institutions is done for the construction of a civil and public space of debate and of a critical discussion around the experiences we share. Art institutions are for freedom, respect and exchange; never for repression, violence or pressure.”
“Encouraging debate and civilised exchange of ideas, CIMAM expresses concern over the turn of events against the freedom of artistic expression and of the values of dialogue defended by the Raw Material Company,” CIMAM says in a media statement. “We call upon Dr Abdoul Aziz Mbaye, Minister of Culture of Senegal, to support Koyo Kouoh, artistic director of the Raw Material Company, and the entire team of this contemporary art center in Dakar.”