« In the installation, there is an act of modesty »

Interview by Jean Pires with Viyé Diba, painter and art professor

En Partenariat avec le Dak'Art / Article disponible uniquement en anglais.
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Viyé Diba, artist and professor at the Dakar School of Art is equally, answers our questions on the installation as an art form. Refusing to join the controversy over the relevancy of the installation, he bases his opinion on the principle that only the pertinence of the work of art should come first, whatever the type or the support.

How do you see the installation as an art and what definition do you give of it as an art professor ?
« There is a lot of controversy over the installation. It is a very important topic. The factual has helped to turn the installation into a fad which has had an impact on the artists’practice. The installation is scenographic technique of spacing. The global presentation actually becomes the work. It has proved attractive but it has also been a bone of contention. Some people take it as a Western fashion and it constitutes an element for breaking up among the artists. In fact, things have changed since the day of the painting destined to be hung on the wall and designed as a pleasant item. There has been a humanisation process. This is some important progress to grasp ; the painting becomes more social, more integrated. There is a mental process in keeping with the aesthetic which is part of the impressionistic revolution. A long process has led to this type of relationship between the work, the artist and the society »
The period we’re living in justifies the artistic practice…
« Creation as a process is parallel to the social process. Which is very important. It is finally not a surprise to see that the installation emerge in the 50 latter years of the 20th century. There has been a stultifying scientific and technique development. Human thought itself has undergone such a  » liberalisation  » system that there aren’t any frontiers anymore in creation. This no-frontier situation has been far enough to flood the creation process and it is in this global process that the installation problematic is raised. Today, we’ve even moved from one stage of materiality to a stage of virtuality with digital art. Our questions, as Africans, get bitter. Are we condemned to follow the pace or is it possible to think in a different way ? That is the question.
You are among the Senegalese artists who excelled the most in installations. Why ?
I presented my first installation in 1989 with the topic :  » The environment, a cultural witness « . Urban life has very much shaped me and I did postgraduate studies in urban geography. Urban attitudes, gestures, the relationships with space, those were my problematic. I was therefore very sensitive to the unusual images : the stalls, the heterogeneous piles… Even before the Dakar Biennal, I was doing installations. I don’t have any bone of contention with installations. I judge first of all the relevancy of the support being used. The installation is not a specific practice technique, it is one way of presenting. I must say that the creation process is no longer limited to the  » artist vs. support  » relationship which is today  » artiste vs. support vs. space « , which implies some interactivity. In the installation, there is an act of modesty, of humanisation with the work ; such a dimension is interesting in relation to Africa. One must understand today that the  » demonetisation  » of art has begun, the notion of creation is going to be more and more a shared notion ».

///Article N° : 4401

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