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Government of Senegal bans all gay exhibits at Biennale of Contemporary African Art

Government of Senegal bans all gay exhibits at Biennale of Contemporary African Art

The Senegalese Government has forced the closure of an LGBTI themed exhibition that was being held as part of the Dak’Art 2014 Biennale of Contemporary African Art after the gallery that was housing it was attacked by Muslim extremists.

‘Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness’ opened at Dakar’s Raw Material Company on 11 May but after only one day the building was attacked and vandalized.

The exhibition had included a video by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia in which transgender people in Algeria and India spoke about their lives.

The government shut down the exhibition on 31 May and ordered the organizers of the biennale not to show any other LGBTI themed material.

Attia told The Art Newspaper that the move to ban the exhibition was out of character for Senegal.

‘Senegal is well-known for its peaceful and moderated Islam,’ Attia said.

‘Such an aggressive attack is absolutely unexpected, as is the government’s decision to shut down all the exhibitions in the biennial that deal with homosexuality.

‘It is highly concerning that a country that has always been protected from fundamentalism is now opening the door through an official path.’

The exhibition also featured photographs of gay men from Lagos by Nigerian artist Andrew Esiebo, a photographic series of black lesbian and transgender women by South African photographer Zanele Muholi, a video of Egyptian women smoking by Egyptian-American artist Amanda Kerdahi M, and works from Jim Chuchu’s ‘Pagan’ series which explores importing of homophobia to Africa by Western missionaries and colonists.