1:54 ART FAIR – A window on African arts

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1:54 ART FAIR – A window on African arts

Founded by Touria El Glaoui in 2013, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is distinctive in its ambition to provide an international platform for the showcase of African and African diaspora contemporary art. For four days starting on 6 October, 1:54 will return to Somerset House for its fourth London edition. Since its inauguration in 2013 the fair has grown considerably and, following the great success of its second New York edition earlier this year, the upcoming London edition will extend to include 40 exhibitors and over 130 artists.

With its title referring to the 54 individual countries that constitute the African continent, 1:54 draws together galleries,curators, museums, collectors and artists, and promotes the incredible diversity of African art that for so long was overshadowed by the assumption of a single “African aesthetic”.

El Glaoui explains that her motivation for establishing 1:54 was born from a frustration at the lack of international exposure given to talented African artists on the continent: “When I realised just how underrepresented African and African diaspora artists were in Europe and America, I decided that something had to be done – that the gap had to bridged.”

Each year 1:54 continues to succeed in giving these artists the long-awaited exposure that El Glaoui is so passionate to generate. Alongside the fair itself, 1:54’s carefully curated Forum and its Special Projects – of which there will be 10 this year – have become essential parts of the fair’s success.

Curated by Koyo Kouoh, 1:54 Forum’s artist talks and panel discussions provide a liberating space for conversation, exploration and education. As well as Forum, 1:54’s special projects also generate fruitful discussion, offering a curated section of non-profit collaborative projects, exhibitions and innovative encounters. This October will feature special projects ranging from site-specific installations by artists Zak Ové, Alexandra Karakashian, Ibrahim El-Salahi and Barthélémy Toguo, to radio broadcasting by Worldwide FM, Gilles Peterson’s latest project, and the first major UK show of late Malian photographer Malick Sidibé.

Here is a snippet of some of the new artists to look out for at this year’s 1:54 Art Fair in London.



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