I don't really know where to start but we can play this like a Gamebook. If you know what a biennial is, go to 2. If you know what a biennial is and you also know where Douala is, go directly to 3. If you know what a biennial is but did not think there were any in Africa, you'd better start from 1.
1. The Venice Biennale was founded in 1895 and with it a type of art exhibition that, by adopting the simple term biennale, immediately declared its intention to be imposing and enduring. Actually, it matters not if an event is annual, biennial, triennial, quadrennial, quinquennial or a one-off, the simple reference in the title to a cyclical nature makes people think it is a biennial.
The place-name in the title is another distinctive feature as, one way or another, it is a declaration of a wish to promote tourism. In 1993, Thomas McEvilly (Thomas McEvilley, "Arrivederci Venice: The Third World Biennials" in Artforum International, 01/11/1993) observed an epidemic of major exhibitions in what he calls the Third World. His text does not consider the 1966 Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres as a biennial despite its desire for four-year recurrence; nor does it analyse the numerous film events; it is based on a selection of partial sources and does not indicate continuity between events launched in the 1970s and those of the 1980s.
Looking at a map of the world with every biennial marked with a dot, it is hard to make out the links and people, and it is difficult to realise that the Biennale de Dakar has had such an impact on the African art scene, much more than that of Venice.
The SUD triennial was created with the aim of bolstering the work started by doual'art in 1991 and to transform Douala. No local branding but real and pure transformation. And they are succeeding! In Douala!
Producing works of art in Douala's public space involves a striking degree of complexity which includes — to give you an idea — the management of public and private land ownership, working with local authorities and police, the importing and expense of equipment, sourcing materials, training skilled staff, fundraising, security and the problematical issue of photographing public artworks in a place that really is not photogenic. This is an impossible environment to conjure up when strolling through the streets of Münster, to remain on message. The SUD triennial was created with the aim of bolstering the work started by doual'art in 1991 and to transform Douala. No local branding but real and pure transformation. And they are succeeding! In Douala!