Mural Inspiration: Dakar

Festigraff, Day 3: The Toll Road. The message for this wall is: “Filth is not good. Be clean inside, clean outside.” Artist Mad Zoo begins the word “set” (clean).

The graffiti artists of economically impoverished Dakar, Senegal in West Africa pride themselves on using a wealth of  talent and ingenuity to create an urban mural scene equal to that of New York or Paris.  Graffiti in Dakar enjoys the distinction of never having been illegal, never considered “vandalism.”  From its beginnings in the 1990s, officials, neighborhood people and, of course, the graffeurs themselves have welcomed graffiti art as a means to cleanse and beautify the disintegrating and unsanitary spaces of their beloved city.  Therefore, graffiti artists from other African countries and Europe have called Dakar “the paradise of graffiti.”

The largest graffiti event in Dakar is the annual Festigraff organized by Doxadem Squad.  Over a period of four intense days, the artists work on walls in three neighborhoods. For each wall, the leaders devise a socially engaged message to send to the community.  Each artist is assigned to do either a word of the message or a perso (character), and is challenged to express to the maximum his own personal style.

These photos were taken at the fourth annual Festigraff, from April 16 to April 20, 2013.

Filed under: Art, Featured, Front Page, Mobile, Today's Mission


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  1. Not surprised by such beautiful creativity. Senegal new generation at the door of the West African continent has always been a leader of inspiration.
    Through the colors, shapes, and tone you can feel the heart of a vibrant community.
    Thanks for picturing such wonderful murals that reminds me the Mission district in many aspects.

  2. Marco, thanks so much for your moving comments. Yes, Dakar (and other West African cities) and the Mission have a lot in common in terms of vibrant artistic and cultural expression.

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