The title of the 12th edition of the Dak'Art Biennale, “The City in the Blue Daylight,” comes from a line in one of Léopld Sédar Senghor's poems. Curator Simon Njami's deft borrowing signaled an investment in pushing artistic practices forward while drawing on the deep wells of an existing poetic heritage. The selection of twelve videos or video-based installations—accounting for about one-fifth of the artworks presented in the international competition, “Reenchantments”—may have been part of this investment in younger art forms that nevertheless transpose previous literary, filmic, and visual oeuvres into their creations.

To accommodate the time-based media, a long hallway of offices on the north side of the former Palais de Justice was converted into a series of white-cube viewing rooms with additional rooms on the upper level of the south side. This layout allowed for private viewing...

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