The Human Condition

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.

Jean-Paul Sartre

"If I am who I am because I am who I am not, then I am not who I am."

Jean-Paul Sartre

The Exile Pavilion 03

Saint Louis

13th Dak'Art Biennal OFF

From May 03 to June 02, 2018

Curators: Marie Deparis-Yafil, mounir fatmi


With over 30 international artists, the Exile Pavilion’s stop in Saint-Louis exhibits about forty artworks using all types of media and addressing the questions of exile, displacement, the situation of exiled populations, the history of exile and diasporas. About the Exile Pavilion, mounir fatmi writes: “From this necessity, this permanent urgency to reflect upon exile, the Exile Pavilion project was born, as a traveling project, offering an alternative cartography, a free geography of temporary exhibits taking the form of stopovers in different countries.”

The project poses the question of exile as a new space to be reinvented, re-imagined and ultimately occupied. That’s why, as a sort of mise en abyme, the chosen works, like Marcel Duchamp’s “suitcase”, can be transported or easily re-created, spreading out in the space to physically invest it. The Senegal River, along which the gallery of the French institute is located, a symbol of exile, departure and distant shores, immediately stood out as a strong source of inspiration for this new stopover. Through its history, strongly linked to human trafficking for over two centuries, the question of the African diaspora is reactivated and superimposed on today’s exiles, thus feeding the parallel that Achille Membé creates between the Atlantic in the 15th century, at the bottom of which rest the remains of thousands of men and women, and the Mediterranean in the 21st century. But the river also evokes the opening of possibilities, a form of hope, freedom, a right – the right to live elsewhere – and sometimes a chance, as writes the Martiniquais writer Patrick Chamoiseau. A chance, perhaps even more so for those who welcome than for those who seek to leave. “You could see”, writes this theoretician of Creoleness, “migration flows as the awakening of the blood of the earth” outlining the real landscapes of our common destiny.

To talk about exile is not, as Michel Foucault points out, “to scratch the earth to find something like bones from the past, a monument to the dead, inert ruins to which we should painstakingly give life and a date”, but to “find the voice that has disappeared behind the silence” and to outline the foundations of globalness. The possibility of exile, and more broadly that of displacement, suggests that “the Earth doesn’t belong to anyone. It signifies that the Earth is shared by all and that we should be able to travel across it freely, without constraints”, also writes Chamoiseau. That idea nourishes our modern world’s need for “open identities”, for a world that is a “unified world”, but it also re-emerges from the entire history of humanity. Establishment and exile concern us all. They always have.

Just like there are borders and territories, the stateless and the exiled are permanent figures in the history of men and peoples, as much as the hope – the myth – of the return. So is the question of exile truly modern? Or does it simply seem more tragic and harsher to us today? Whatever the case may be, it is a vivid reality of the world we live in. The “common world” Hannah Arendt spoke of, the one we must perpetually build and in whose construction works of art participate, has perhaps always been a world in which exile is the ordinary condition, and today, a globalized world that can be defined not by the fact that some people wander whereas others are firmly established, but where no one is “home” forever. The artists of this Exile Pavilion, each in their own way, address these questions, alternating between individual stories and collective history, between tragedy and hope, uprooting and reappropriation, nostalgia and the reinvention of oneself.

13th DAK'ART Biennal OFF

The Red Hour



Ali Assaf
Anna Raimondo
Brankica Zilovic
Curtis Santiago
Dimitri Fagbohoun
Djibril Diallo
El Hadji Keita
Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos
Farah Khelil
Gohar Dashti
Hank Willis Thomas
Jamila Lamrani
Kendell Geers
Marco Godinho
Mohamed El Baz
Mona Hatoum
mounir fatmi
Ndari Lo
Omar Victor Diop
Philippe Cazal
Sadek Rahim
Sophie Bachelier
Yara Saïd
Younès Baba Ali

mounir fatmi, As a Black Man

2013-2014, Courtesy: the artist and Ceysson & Bénétière, Paris.

The Exile Pavilion 03, Institut Français, Saint Louis, Sengal

The Exile Pavilion 03, Institut Français, Saint Louis, Sengal

Ali Assaf, The Exile Pavilion 03, The Red Hour, Saint Louis, Senegal

Courtesy of the artist.

Gohar Dashti, Anna Raimondo, Mona Hatoum, The Exile Pavilion 03, The Red Hour, Saint Louis, Senegal

Courtesy of the artists.