1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is one of the leading international art fairs dedicated to contemporary African art. It takes place at Somerset House, in London, until this Sunday October 8th, 2017.
This year, for its fifth edition, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair presents several great photography exhibitions. Ahead of the first Marrakech edition of the fair in February 2018, 1:54 showcases Marrakech-based creative platforms in London. Experimental artist-run space Mint Works presents a performance by Hana Tefrati, in which she will transform a corridor in the West Wing of Somerset House into “desire path”, to call attention to the marginal spaces that the queer community occupies in Morocco. More importantly, it features Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane, the first UK solo exhibition of the British-Moroccan artist in seven years, showcasing new and celebrated works. Hajjaj’s multi-layered works fuse traditional and contemporary North African culture with familiar Western imagery and iconography. He is best known for his photographic portraits, including the Kesh Angels series, from which there will be several new works in the exhibition. Blending the glossy aesthetic of a fashion shoot with Moroccan street culture, these images challenge Western perceptions of the hijab and female disempowerment. Another new body of work in the exhibition is My Rock Stars: Volume 2, a video installation of nine screens, each occupied by a distinctively dressed musician.
1:54 also takes over the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House for the second consecutive year, with Summer Surprise, a specially-conceived installation by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou (Galleria Continua). The installation references togunas, public structures native to Mali that facilitate debate and intellectual exchange, and invites visitors to initiate their own discussions. Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh also presents a sound installation, commissioned by Modern Forms. This piece is a multi-channel sound installation that combines the serenading properties of the Ọja (Igbo flute) with spoken or sung words into a sonic ode to African renaissance. Emeka Ogboh is a pioneer of sound art on the African continent.
Another highlight every year, the 1:54 lounge is this year designed by Yinka Ilori, an artist inspired by the traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics that surrounded him as child and he brings these elements into playful conversation with contemporary design. Passionately against the unnecessary waste he has seen in European and West African consumer cultures, he specializes in up-cycling discarded furniture and other found objects. His collection for 1:54, A united family eats from the same plate, encourages people to come together, surrounded by an influx of color, patterns and motifs that evoke different feelings.
For visitors interested in queer issues, Adejoke Tugbiyele performs Shifting the Waves, a new work exploring the liberating and transformative powers of movement in decolonizing institutional and religious structures between Africa and the West. Tugbiyele is an award-winning, queer, black artist and advocate represented by October Gallery, London. Her practice explores global LGBTQ human rights issues and her own identity as a queer woman of Nigerian descent.
“We are thrilled to have such an exciting line-up of Special Projects for the fifth anniversary edition of 1:54 London, which is our most ambitious to date and strengthens our already amazing mix of galleries with additional voices and perspectives”, said Touria El Glaoui, Director of 1:54. “It is especially exciting for us to be collaborating with Somerset House once again to present a major exhibition of British-Moroccan master portraitist Hassan Hajjaj ahead of the launch of 1:54 Marrakech in 2018.”
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
5 – 8 October 2017
Strand, London WC2R 1LA