Dakar Action Lab

Dakar Action Lab

at the Dak’Art Biennale

WPI Project Leader Todd Lester, in his capacity as executive director of freedimensional, invites you to Dakar, Senegal for a multi-media project on global migration. freeDimensional engages in networking that builds on existing resources in the art, media and entertainment sectors in order to engage and financially underwrite direct actions necessary to help culture workers-in-distress and use their stories to illustrate critical, contemporary issues.

Starting in May 2008 at the Dak’Art Biennale, fD is supporting its Dakar partner center, Atelier Moustapha Dime, to raise awareness on the growing number of West Africans dying at sea while attempting economic migration. Find out more information at Taking IT Global.

Atelier Moustapha Dime has created a space for expression on economic migration within the framework of the Dakar Biennale (May 9 – June 9). The media campaign (pamphlet, interviews and press conference) in Dakar public spaces – including the central marketplace, city center, fishing boat launches, and the exhibition venues of the 2008 Dak’Art Biennale – will be created in an archival process of sharing, trust and consensus-building with Dakar pedestrians, and is intended to provide a robust version of the situation that faces economic migrants seeking opportunities in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

This multi-site, in-depth focus on economic migration uses the experience of 14 Senegalese men who traveled from Goree Island off the coast of Dakar to within a hundred miles of Brooklyn before being picked up by the US Coast Guard. These men were summarily detained in a New Jersey ‘warehouse’ after which 10 were quickly deported. freeDimensional has visited the remaining 4 over the last few months.

Background: In May 2007 the Associated Press stated that in 2006 more than 30,000 African immigrants were caught trying to reach the Canary Islands –

In March 2006 the Financial Times quoted Manuel Pombo, Spanish ambassador-at-large in charge of humanitarian issues stating that up to 40 percent of those Africans who attempt the crossing from Mauritania to the Canary Islands may be dying at sea –

Despite the sheer human loss that is happening in the situation of economic migration from West Africa, and in the face of shifting EU and Spanish immigration policies, the voyage of the Brooklyn 14 (in a GPS-equipped catamaran) provides a barometer of determination that we can expect in future waves of human migration.

Oliver Bakewell of the International Migration Institute at Oxford suggests that in order to truly take migration into account, we would have to become committed to approaches like that of Amartya Sen … developing capacities of people, not places. In the coming months, freeDimensional will blend direct action with policy advocacy in a people-centered approach to raise awareness on conditions surrounding economic migration.


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