1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Comes to New York This Weekend

By: May. 15, 2015
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1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, a leading transnational platform dedicated to promoting African and Africa related art practices and projects, will make its New York debut this weekend, May 15-17, 2015. The fair will take place at Pioneer Works | Center for Art + Innovation in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and will be designed by RA Projects, award-winning London-based architecture and design studio.

Founded in 2013 by Touria El Glaoui, 1:54 has established itself at the forefront of the rapidly emerging contemporary African art market, with an expert selection of participating galleries and artists and a program of ambitious lectures and panel discussions with some of the art world's key thinkers. The U.S edition, 1:54 NY, will showcase 16 select galleries hailing from global territories such as South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the UK and the USA to showcase over 60 emerging and established international artists.

A reference to fifty-four countries that constitute the African continent, the title of 1:54 establishes the parameters of the fair's ethos: as a platform that strives to represent multiplicity and showcase the diversity of contemporary African art and cultural production on an international stage. The New York edition will present a wide range of artistic voices including established and celebrated artists who have paved the way for future artistic generations, and a fast-growing number of promising emerging talent. Spanning several generations and diverse mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography and installation, the selection includes works by Edson Chagas, star of the Angolan Pavilion - awarded the prestigious accolade for Best National Participation at the 55th Venice Biennale; Prix Pictet shortlist photographer Sammy Baloji; Malian artistAbdoulaye Konaté; Tunisian artist and researcher Nidhal Chamekh; Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama; and Bahamian artist Lavar Munroe; many of which have been selected for presentation at this year's 56th Venice Biennale. New York art-goers will likely recognize numerous artists establishing a global presence, such as William Kentridge from David Krut Projects (New York), Aboudia and Boris Nzebo from Jack Bell Gallery (London), Maïmouna Guerresi and ruby onyinyechi amanze from Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (Seattle), and Joël Andrianomearisoa from Primo Marella Gallery (Milan).

"It gives me great pleasure to move beyond the fair's original parameters and over geographic borders to inaugurate the New York edition this year," says its director Touria El Glaoui. "Contemporary African art is continuing its rise to the fore as it is granted the attention it duly deserved. In light of this, it seems only right that 1:54 would spread its wings to land in New York, where established and emerging African artists and artists of the African Diaspora are leading a burgeoning contemporary art scene that communicates across international geographies. The New York edition will retain the intimacy and charm that the setting of London's Somerset House has made possible, and as always, will showcase the highest caliber of art to date, in an unrivalled setting."

The fair is also bringing to New York its critical conversations series, Forum, curated by Koyo Kouoh (Artistic Director, RAW Material Company). Forum looks to reexamine present and future notions of 21st century African diasporic identities as traversed, negotiated and performed in the arenas of intellectual, cultural and artistic practices. A special focus will be given to important voices active in the current millennium. Confirmed speakers across the two-day event include acclaimed artists Lyle Ashton Harris and Melvin Edwards; Professor of African and African American Art History at University of California, Los Angeles, Steven Nelson; Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Franklin Sirmans; Curator of African Art at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Ugochukwu-Smooth C.Nzewi; and Associate Professor at Cornell University, Margo Natalie Crawford, Ph.D., as the keynote speaker. Joining the panel discussion 'Global Black Subjectivities: Here and Now' will be Ethiopian born American artist Julie Mehretu, Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Naima J. Keith, and Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at Brooklyn Museum, Rujeko Hockley. The full program details will be announced at the end of April.

For the second consecutive year, Artsy is the official online partner of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Collectors and art enthusiasts can explore 1:54 NY, inquire on works for sale, and view special features such as highlights selected by art-world insiders on Artsy.net and the Artsy iPhone app.

Artsy's exclusive online preview of 1:54 NY opens May 12, where users may view works and contact galleries with inquiries before the opening of the physical fair. The fair microsite will remain live on Artsy throughout the length of the fair, with new works updated daily. For those visiting the fair in person, the Artsy iPhone app functions as a personal mobile guide for navigating the fair and researching exhibitors, artists, and artworks. A quick tap displays exhibitor listings and booth locations; background information on artists and artworks - including artist biographies, articles, and price details; and lists of other complementary works at the fair.

Pictured: Aboudia, Untitled tête, 2014. Jack Bell Gallery, London