“You can no longer just go to Miami or Montecarlo: they are very interesting places, but the world is made up of much more. How Dakar, which represents the future”. With these words Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion, explained the decision-making process that had led him and the creative director Virginie Viard to choose the capital of Senegal as the location for the show Metiers d’Art autumn winter 2023 2024. The great fashion show-event was held last December at the Ancien Palais de Justice, an iconic place in the Senegalese capital, currently home to the Art Biennale, but which had been abandoned for years: today the building is subject to a restoration to which the French maison contributed.
The project required three years of gestation, and it didn’t end with the simple fashion show: for the occasion, Chanel had organized a three days of socio-artistic-cultural events to integrate with the vibrant city scene, instead of just using the spaces for the time of a show. African dance performances, talk with writers and creatives, seminars for design school students, workshops, video projections: the Chanel event was a real tribute to a area of the world that fashion rarely deserves attentionbut which is nevertheless very rich in ideas, tradition and style.
The link between the maison and the cosmopolitan city of Dakar is now being consolidated with a new initiative: the exhibition Sur le fil, broderie et weaving, inaugurated in January. The exhibition ‘transfers’ to Dakar the Galerie du 19M, a multidisciplinary space branded Chanel which is located in Paris and which acts as a creative hub, where shows, conferences, workshops and exhibitions are hosted. For about three months the space of the Musée Théodore-Monod d’art africain in Dakar will welcome the Senegalese version of the French gallery (renamed for the occasion Galerie du 19M Dakar), and will bring the same multidisciplinary concept to the African metropolis starting from one of the excellences locals: textile processing.
“The inauguration of the Galerie du 19M Dakar coincides with the first anniversary of the Galerie du 19M in Paris and its opening to the public. This first international program speaks to the renewed interest of professionals in fashion savoir-faire, championed by Chanel for forty years, as well as a new popular fervor for crafts”, commented Pavlovsky.
Sur le fil sees the participation of thirty artists of very different origins – Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Bolivia, France – and places their creativity in dialogue with the local artistic-craft tradition. The main focus is precisely on textile craftsmanship: in the foreground, the art of embroidery and weavingthe savoir-faire linked to the processing of wool, leather, silk, cotton, raffia, the mastery in the use of natural dyes (especially the use of indigo) of yesterday’s artisans and today’s creatives, young people who are modernizing the tradition bringing a fresh breath of novelty in the African landscape. The local tradition is related to other means of expression, such as painting, photography, contemporary installations, in a path that ranges between places, materials, techniques and eras.
Special attention is paid to the concept of intergenerational transmissionand to the links between heritage and contemporary world. At this juncture, the work of five artists is being celebrated as examples of the ‘new modernity’: Alioune Badiane, Viyé Diba, Kalidou Kassé, Souleymane Keita and Abdoulaye Ndoye, whose work is shaping the art world in Senegal. At the end of the exhibition their works will remain on display in the museum space with a personal exhibition dedicated to each of them.
Sur le fil can be visited at the Dakar headquarters until March 12, 2023, and then will move to Pariswhere it will be open to the public from May to July at the Le19M headquarters, in the 19th arrondissements.