The 12th Edition of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art (aka Dak’Art) is on till 11 July in Dakar, Senegal and features the works of 65 African artists in the Diaspora and across the continent.
One of the participants this year is documentary photographer Aderemi Adegbite, who travels with a team of artists in a mobile museum, housed in the transport icon known in Lagos(Nigeria) as ‘Molue’. In an interview conducted online, Adegbite says more about the inspiration for the project.
waka-about: First, what inspired the Molue Mobile Museum of Contemporary Art (MMMoCA) and which year did it materialise?
Aderemi Adegbite: MMMoCA was inspired by a rethink of the role of museum in a society that is constantly evolving. Most museums are mainly located in privileged areas of our cities, in a contemporary society where creative ideas come from everywhere. So the idea of mobile museum that can be accessed everywhere becomes very critical.
WA: What’s in the mobile museum?
AA: We have different art pieces in the bus but they are not mounted due to the movement of bus. We only mount some of the pieces for viewers when we make a stop somewhere on the way. The bus itself is a showpiece; people wonder if we would make it to Dakar. The immigration officers laughed at us most times. Other things in the bus are our clothes, and food stuff. We cook whenever we make a stop.
WA: You have driven the Molue to a couple of events and shows in the past–LagosPhoto, Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), and so on: how would you describe the reaction of visitors/ guests when they step in?
AA: The enthusiasm generated in the communities where even the idea of a museum was something very new to them was amazing. The idea of a museum as an information platform and a space for diverse encounters came to filtration in all the projects so far.
WA: You could have used any other vehicle for the museum, so why the Molue?
AA: The choice of the Molue was first of all an attempt to conserve the Lagos city icon. The Molue has a mystic identity when we talk of Lagos.
WA: The road trip from Lagos to Dakar: what is it all about? What do you plan to achieve with it?
AA: The MMMoCA is an official invitee to this year edition of the Dak’Art Biennale. It will be a good opportunity to showcase MMMoCA to an international audience.
WA: What would you and your team be doing en route and how many days would the journey take?
AA: The museum serves as a platform for the participating artists to develop their individual projects as we travel from one community to another. The Mobile Museum will serve as an exhibition space and there will also be interaction with other art institutions.
WA: What has been your experience on the road, especially as per crossing the borders of ECOWAS member-states?
AA: The trip has been very interesting, although not with its peculiarity due to the long journey and weather condition in other countries we passed through. The vehicle broke down several times and we rested several times too. And on the 10th day, which was the opening day of Dak’Art, we reached Dakar.
WA: And what have you done since arriving In Dakar?
AA: we visited several exhibition spaces, starting from the main exhibition hall to other Biennale off-exhibitions. We partied hard too every night in Dakar.
WA:Are you driving the bus?
AA: I don’t know how to drive. There is a driver and a mechanic on board—and both of them are wonderful, I should add.
WA: What’s your take on Dak’Art?
AA: The Biennale is a great avenue for visual narratives and cultures. It brings artists, curators and art consultants from different part of the continent and even outside together every two years for an exchange of ideas and inspiration. It’s the most respected platform for African visual culture. This year’s edition is curated by Simon Njami, which featured artists with different medium. I personally like the dynamic nature of the works that being exhibited.
Wa: Would you say that this road trip on a Molue is one of the toughest things/projects you have to do/embark on?
AA: Yes, I will say that. But again, it’s been fun.