Art World City

Art World City

The Creative Economy of Artists and Urban Life in Dakar
Joanna Grabski
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/10/2017
Format: Paperback 57 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02605-7
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Art World City focuses on contemporary art and artists in the city of Dakar, a famously thriving art metropolis in the West African nation of Senegal. Joanna Grabski illuminates how artists earn their livelihoods from the city’s resources, possibilities, and connections. She examines how and why they produce and exhibit their work and how they make an art scene and transact with art world mediators such as curators, journalists, critics, art lovers, and collectors from near and far. Grabski shows that Dakar-based artists participate in a platform that has a global reach. They extend Dakar’s creative economy and the city’s urban vibe into an "art world city."

Author Bio

Joanna Grabski is Director of the School of Art at Arizona State University. She is editor (with Carol Magee) of African Art, Interviews, Narratives: Bodies of Knowledge at Work. She wrote, directed, and produced the feature-length documentary film Market Imaginary, focused on Dakar’s sprawling Colobane Market.


“In her fine-grained analysis, Joanna Grabski demonstrates the ways that the urban environment and the sites of art production, exhibition, and sale imbricate one another to constitute Dakar as an Art World City.”
 — Mary Jo Arnoldi, author of Playing with Time

“Needless to say, one can find contemporary artists and arts in any African city just as one can anywhere else in the world, but not with the profusion and shared pride of Dakar. Why is this? Engaging tales thereby hang, and the author is a most masterful raconteuse.”
 — Allen F. Roberts, author of A Dance of Assassins

“Concise and insightful, Joanna Grabski’s Art World City should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in contemporary art on the continent of Africa, its politics, its display, its economics, and in methods of how to
understand and write about it in manner that treats the art of Dakar with the autonomy and agency it clearly expresses. ”
 — African Arts

Art World City is a valuable addition to the anthropology of cities and of art worlds. It stretches and revises the notion of art world to include multiple scales, and illustrates how the city enables simultaneous engagement for artists with local, national, Pan-African, and global discourses and platforms.”
 — City & Society

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Dakar’s Art World City
1. Making the City’s Scene: Visibility, Exhibition Culture, and Mediatization
2. Mapping the Dak'Art Biennale in Dakar
3. A Place From Which to Speak: Artists’ Studios as Infrastructure of Opportunity
4. From Street to Studio: Sourcing the Materials for Art from Urban Life
5. Picturing the City
6. Market Space and Urban Space: The Business of Selling Art in the City
Epilogue. Reflections on Dakar’s Art World City: Infrastructures, Vision-Oriented Subjectivities, and Implications

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