FNB Art Joburg
06-08.09.24
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

Intervention of Interest

One hour

with Exhibition Match

Following a tumultuous electoral period, Senegal appointed Bassirou Diomaye Faye as its new president in March 2024. Parallel to this, players in the contemporary art world have made plans, curated pavilions, secured press and booked their tickets to the country’s capital all in the name of the 15th edition of Biennale de Dakar and its fringe programmes. Postponed, not canceled, we talk to Exhibition Match about the thinking behind taking their initiative to Dakar for its very first away game.

“There have been murmurs of postponement but when it happens we are going.” It is a few weeks before the Biennale de Dakar starts. I’m on a virtual phone call with Phokeng Setai and Alexander Richards when Setai makes this affirmation about Exhibition Match premiering as a part of the 2024 Dakar Biennial OFF Programme.

It was time, they both agree, to place the intervention in a biennale’s non-commercial context now that they have established their footing as calendar mainstays during South Africa’s Spring and Summer art fair seasons. With ease, Richards adds how, “it’s the pinnacle of biennales on the continent. Phokeng and I have always understood that maybe Exhibition Match is a way to make art moreaccessible. What better continent to do that on than one that is mad about football?”

A form of social innovation using football and exhibition making to facilitate collaboration, collective participation, community building and play, Exhibition Match has and continues to do what it set out to. That has, however, remained limited to the contexts in which Setai and Richards live, work and pull influence. “Taking this to Dakar is a good way to test the dexterity of the idea,” admits Setai. An invitation to build connections on the ground, where the only pull is interest in football and (or) contemporary art, Richards points to how this upcoming season of Exhibition Match has the potential to mirror the very thing that they reference from the world of football: “In a social context: those who arrive are welcome to play.”

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