Experience as Institution symposium

Experience as Institution symposium

Tate Modern

Plehanov 7, les cendres de Pierre Lods, 19 January 1990, Théâtre de Verdure du Centre Culturel, Dakar. Reproduced with kind permission of the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Collection Axt/Sy.

November 7, 2013

Experience as Institution: Part 1: artist collectives and cultural platforms in Africa (as part of BMW Tate Live)
Friday 29 November 2013, 10–18h

Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern


Could an art experience be considered an institution? What is the legacy of an experience which deliberately refuses conventions on art project making to engage with a more critical social dialogue?

Founded in 1974 in Dakar, Senegal, the artist collective Laboratoire Agit-Art aimed to agitate the existing institutional framework, to question the tenets of Leopold Sédar Sengor’s Négritude, and to encourage artists to adopt a critical approach toward their practice. At that time, Dakar was a setting where political consciousness was exercised, and artist collectives such as Laboratoire Agit-Art went beyond the aesthetic experience to critically promote the development of cultural and artistic endeavours, whose goals were to blur disciplinary boundaries and to propose the experience of a ‘total art’ powerfully influenced by vernacular cultures and languages.

This symposium uses Laboratoire Agit-Art’s modus operandi, and particularly its uses of performance, as case study to reflect on the current presence of cultural platforms and artist collectives in Africa, which uses disciplines such as performance, visual art, music and art in the public space seeking to engage with socio-political concerns affecting their immediate environment.

Speakers Elizabeth Harney and Souleymane Bachir Diagne explore Senegalese modernism and Negritude as a philosophical term and as a national cultural policy.

In the afternoon session introduced by Tate Modern Curator Elvira Dyangani Ose, Jan Goossens discusses the trans-disciplinary collaborations of Connexion Kin, a Kinshasa-based performing arts festival organized by the KVS. Lastly, Neo Muyanga introduces the platforms Pan-African Space Station and Chimurenga in a music-lecture.

Curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern, supported by Guaranty Trust Bank, and Catherine Wood, Curator, Contemporary Art and Performance, Tate Modern, in collaboration with Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Commissioned and produced as part of Corpus, new collaborative network for commissioning performance-related work co-founded by If I Can’t Dance, Amsterdam; Playground (STUK & M); Leuven and Tate Modern, London (as part of BMW Tate Live). With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.

BMW Tate Live is curated by Catherine Wood, Curator, Contemporary Art and Performance, Tate and Capucine Perrot, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern.

BMW Tate Live is a partnership between BMW and Tate, which focuses on performance, interdisciplinary art and curating digital space.


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