Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. by craniv boyd.

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. by craniv boyd. 

Three colossal figures pose on a windblown cliff facing the Atlantic ocean. They are poised, to quit their rocky knoll. A strong man with a cap, placing hailing baby boy first, himself second and pulling waif after him, with his left arm, over: away from a kraplack arid bluff. Who are these big people? Where are they going from, and eventually to?

For answers, one might ask the Romanian socialist realist artist, who designed this very big sculpture, or the North Korean construction firm who assembled it: the Monument de la Renaissance Africaine, one of the most prominent recent public art works, visible in  Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on  the Cape Vert peninsula where the city is. 

the Monument de la Renaissance Africaine is a museum with pan-African  aspirations. A monument to an African renaissance. It, is a copper statue formed to look like a nuclear African family. A hat wearing man of heroic proportions: ( think of a certain governor of California in his rôle of Terminator). Then a golden baby boy who points with a singular digit, west towards the Americas, seated in the crook of strong arm of the man. Like wise the toddler has similar head wear as the grown man in the family. In the back of the grouping of three, is a woman. From her pose she looks limp. She does not stand on her bare feet. Her head, with braided hair is tilted back and her mode of dress leaves little to the imagination. She is not nude, she has loincloths on but her ample bosom verges to spill out from her dress. Circling around the back end of the monument provides a glance up at her barely existing skirt. 

The statue addresses a formative passage in the history of the modern world, that for many people remains both dark and simple. Perhaps this statue is an attempt to make a representative image for a great deal of African families, and peoples who were forcibly transported oversees; for centuries in the hulls of slaving crafts, and sold as lots in various auctions. A task so herculean no singular colossi could brand, or seer into public memory. 

The Monument itself contains a museum, with on the ground level, an undulating double faced poster. On one face all of the current national flags of African nation states, and under these standards, story book representations of bitter history. on the opposite face of the same waved form, visual representations of pan-Africanists. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is presented on this poster a black and white photograph, Dr. King in profile right arm raised, set against a backdrop of a protest audience, a  rectangular speech bubble of sorts is on this photograph it reads: "I HAVE A DREAM !" and is placed at a 45° angle from the mouth of Dr. King. 

Along with the representations of black history on the entry level of the museum , are a bevy of flat-screen displays mounted on a mirrored wall. The flat screens show loops of the construction and the assembly of the monument, and what is curious about this slide show is that no clear representations of construction workers, who built the big metal African family are given. What is however, visually emphasized is the monument it self. The undulating poster at the entrance features images of the monument to the African renaissance, so as to demonstrate that the monument is part of pan-Africanism. Low resolution poor quality photographs of the Monument are on the entry ticket, three dimensional rendering printed on canvass and on flat screen displays already mentioned. Inside the museum of the monument de la renaissance Africane, visitors are in a version of African history wont to be told. Then subjected to  idealized pictures of the monument itself.

One can take an elevator to the top level of the monument, and look out from the cap of the African man. There are windows that offer a panoramic view over Dakar, and more over towards the Atlantic ocean. by craniv boyd. 

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