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Pre-Course Assignment 1: Issa Samb

Issa Samb (1945 – 2017), sometimes known under the pseudonym Joe Ouakam, was a Senegalese author, painter, poet, and sculptor. The son of a dignitary, Samb was educated by his grandfather before studying law and philosophy at the University of Dakar. His academic pursuits deeply informed his artistic practice for the rest of his life; he was quoted at the 2016 Biennale de l’art africain contemporain to have said, “All my life I have struggled with idea, and time. All the time I am exploring the soul, this well of profundity.” (Dak’Art)


Samb’s work revolved around and was deeply rooted in political subversion. Often under his pseudonym Joe Ouakam, he exhibited work that openly criticized governmental domestication of the arts. Samb also became disillusioned with formalistic creation and interpretation of art; he believed that art should be more about the process than the final product. Guided by this belief, he co-founded Laboratoire Agit’Art, an interdisciplinary collective that emphasized experimental artistic practice.


Interview “On the Meaning of Objects”:


Issa Samb ‘La Cour’ (the Yard) from WORD! WORD? WORD!: