1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair took place from the 3rd to 5th May 2019 in Manhattan, NY, boasting record-breaking attendance. Welcoming over 10,000 visitors, including museum directors, curators and collectors affiliated with over 50 museums and non-profit institutions around the world, the art fair strengthened its position as a powerful platform for African art discovery, cultural engagement and sales acquisition. (Image credit: Touria El Glaoui at 1-54 NYC_2019 @brittanybuongiorno)
With editions in London, New York and Marrakech, 1-54 is the leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. Initiated by Touria El Glaoui in 2013, the art fair held its 6th consecutive edition in London in October 2018 and celebrated its 2nd edition in Marrakech in February this year.
Founder and director Touria El Glaoui has been listed among the 100 most powerful women in Africa by Forbes. Raised in Morocco, she has also organised and co-curated exhibitions of her father’s work, Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui. A great representative of contemporary African art and women in leadership.
Touria El Glaoui, commented, “The vision of 1-54 is one that strives to give opportunities and global exposure to artists from the African continent and of the African diaspora by welcoming galleries that support these artists from Africa, Europe and the United States”.
The 2019 edition welcomed 24 galleries from Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Kenya, Martinique, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, collectively exhibiting the work of more than 70 artists and hosting the largest number of galleries from the African continent until now.
1-54 hosted a robust line-up of Special Projects, including ‘Collector’s choice: Abidjan in the 1970’s; Paul Kodjo photographs the ‘Ivorian Miracle’, presented by Happening Africa. 1-54 also collaborated with the Pioneer Works’ Visual Arts Residency 2019 for an installation by artist Ezra Wube. Aperture Foundation showcased the new publication ‘Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful’ in addition to releases by Hank Willis Thomas, Deana Lawson, Zanele Muholi and Mickalene Thomas at its pop-up bookshop. The Aperture pop-up bookshop hosted a book signing of ‘Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal’, in the presence of the artist.
Curated by Black Chalk and Co., an artist collective founded by Zimbabwean artists Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Tinashe Mushakavanhu, and supported by Olivia Peterson (FORUM Curatorial Assistant), 1-54 Forum returned to the art fair once again by focusing on radical imperatives underlining African and African American artistry, dealing with themes of temporal and material abstraction, narrativization and transformation through enabling artists to visualize and mobilize new artistic communities and connections. Artists involved were Richard Mudariki, Miatta Kawinzi, Lizania Cruz, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Kaneza Schaal, Ayodamola Okunseinde, Salome Asega, Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, Derek Fordjour, Paloma McGregor and Zakes Mda. Curators and scholars included MK Abadoo (Choreographer and Assistant Professor, Department of Dance and Choreography, Virginia Commonwealth University), Rashida Bumbray (Curator and Choreographer), Amber Esseiva (Assistant Curator, Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University), Ashley James (Assistant Curator, Brooklyn Museum), and Tandazani Dhlakama (Assistant Curator and Education Manager, Zeitz MOCAA).
Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Tinashe Mushakavanhu say: “While 1-54 is primarily a market for African art, a meeting point, forum facilitates conversations, and networks which enables the creation of a sustainable community. 1-54 FORUM was a wonderful experience seeing and learning from so many generous artists, scholars, thinkers whose work is shaping how we engage with African culture and productions.”