Simon Njami

Curator bringing the world to Africa, and African art to the world

‘When I curate a biennial in Dakar, I want a global discussion,’ Njami told Artsy in May, at the opening of this year’s Dak’Art – his second time heading up Senegal’s long-running biennial. From cofounding the magazine Revue Noire (1991–2001, at a time when, he recalls, many European gallerists ‘insisted that contemporary art did not exist in Africa’), to his groundbreaking Africa Remix show in the mid-2000s, Njami has been a key figure in the battle to recentre (and decentre) the narrative of contemporary art in and from Africa. For Njami, constantly travelling between the continent’s growing art scenes, supporting the institutional cultures and networks necessary for getting art shown and circulated, are as important as the art itself; for Dak’Art he invited curators from Hong Kong to Mexico to curate international sections, while his Kampala Art Biennale in August brought established artists to set up studio in the Ugandan capital, to mentor groups of ‘apprentice’ artists.