One of the world’s most influential art collectives, Laboratoire Agit’Art was founded in Dakar in the 1970s, problematizing artistic institutionalization, top down cultural initiatives, and the primarily Western historical canon, convention, and methodologies. Composed of artists, filmmakers, writers, and intellectuals, the collective defied categorization, rejected formalism, and embraced experimentation. Working with sculpture, found objects, performance, workshops, and improvisation, the group prioritized action-based ephemerality over longevity and institutional frameworks. As a result, records and archives were dispersed over the years, obscuring many details of the group’s founding and activities and further complicating efforts to examine its legacy. Sohrab Mohebbi will collaborate with a team that includes individual and institutional partners, a research assistant, and a principal collaborator in Dakar. Mohebbi will oversee a concerted and cohesive investigation of the group’s archives, helping to advance scholarship around its activities and contextualize its history and the art scene that gave birth to the revolutionary collective. Research trips to Dakar, major libraries and collections, and other sites throughout Europe and beyond that are significant to the collective’s history will bring the team in dialogue with scholars, artists, and others who were either part of or connected to the group, and to uncover and investigate archival materials that will shed light on this pioneering collective and its enduring legacy and impact on artists working today.
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