Ancien Palais #dakart2016


The Ancien Palais de Justice Dakar, used to be the first courthouse of Senegal and only moved to a new location in 2005 , but the state it was left in, with archives and papers littering the floor, looked quite spooky.

The Ancien Palais de Justice, which houses the central exhibition, had been abandoned wreckage, a decaying behemoth full of garbage and goats situated behind the bus terminus at the very tip of Dakar’s peninsula. “Some said it was haunted, [there were] spirits,” Njami said, admitting, “there were probably some snakes… I wanted to create a mystery or miracle out of something that was there. I didn’t invent it; it was there. And by reopening it, it became a kind of miracle for people passing in front of it.”


Before the big clean up:

(photos below by:


I’ve been trying to find some footage of the ‘transformation process’ but so far I have not come across any video footage or photo’s. It would have been great to see what work went into getting the space ready (were the artists involved? or the local community?)

I did find 2 articles where you can see the building before it’s transformation (click on the photo’s to go to the website):

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Behold the end result:

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Dak’art was not isolated to the magnificent Palais, though. A disused old train station was reborn, hosting hipster dance parties, concerts and symposia throughout the opening week. There were 200 OFF exhibitions as well, pushing art into unknown pockets of the city.


I experimented a bit with an earlier drawing (Africa in Bloom) combined with a photo of the inside of the Palais de Justice:

Africa in bloom, digital drawing

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Ancien Palais de Justice in Bloom (apparently the Asian writing says: I am African)


I wonder what will happen to the Ancien Palais after the Dak’art Biennale. Will it go back to decay, or will this be the beginning of something new? I sure hope so, from the photo’s it looks like a glorious space, maybe it will become a new arts/cultural center and host future Dak’art Biennales?

To close off this post, here’s a great artist from Senegal: Faada Freddy, part of hip hop band Daara J Family and who is also pursuing a solo career with his album Gospel Journey.


See you all on Monday  🙂 The last week of the Dak’art Biennale..!

Love, Salam

from the Netherlands





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