Inventer-le-monde :
l'artiste citoyen
Carrefour des arts (Crossroads of the Arts)

Friday 26 October 2012

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The Fédération des associations professionnelles des plasticiens et graphistes du Bénin (Federation of Professional Associations of Visual Artists and Graphic Designers of Benin) (FAPLAG-BENIN) is one of the rare associations in Benin that brings together art professionals from fine and graphic arts. For the 2012 Biennale Bénin, it organizes the Carrefour des arts (Crossroads of the Arts), in order to demonstrate the vitality of the nation’s contemporary creation. Meetings and other exhibition platforms for contemporary art are rare in this country.

Benin, which has only recently opened itself internationally (five years ago at most), enjoys a "percolating" artistic scene. Several associations, artist groups, and individual artists have launched themselves into all manner of promotions. It is this vision of art, in service of development, to which the Fédération des associations professionnelles des plasticiens et graphistes du Bénin, directed by Victorien Philippe Abayi, ascribes.

This action by visual artists to defend their art is as laudable as the teaching of fine arts, a marginal activity that is absent form most scholarly programs in Benin. To realize the extend to which this disciple is marginal, it suffices to observe that outside of the elite establishments, frequented primarily by the children of expatriates and following mostly Francophone or Anglophone curricula, the only Béninois establishment truly invested in artistic formation is the village d’enfants S.O.S. d’Abomey-Calavi (SOS Children’s Village Abomey-Calavi). There, artistic education focuses above all on the fine arts and aims to provide students with professional expertise. Its shortcomings are theoretical and occasionally deep, since Benin has no academic art schools.

The structures of contemporary art in Benin are gradually being established. The percolation we observe in the arena of artistic creation, at once constant, steady, and renewed, is the most concrete sign. The artists, primarily self-taught, who have made artistic expression their occupation, have understood the need to communicate around their art, and have the noble ambition of putting their artistic process at the center of an informed discourse.

D.H.

Translated from French by Isabelle Havet.