1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2014
Now it’s the second time around for 1:54 – named for the tendency for people to refer to the 54 countries of Africa as one entity – and its first birthday sees the fair grow twice as large and increase its reach to include the diaspora. “Last October, we widened the fair,” says Koyo Kouoh, the 2014 fair’s Cameroonian curator. “There was a second exhibition wing, and new exhibitors, showcasing over 100 emerging and established artists from South Africa, Morocco and the USA.”
Selection and themes
The artistic flavours last year were as wide and varied as anything at other art fairs, and impossible to categorise in one sweep. “The selection wasn't thematic, but I’m sure certain currents were detected,” says Kouoh, adding that those in search of interpretation will enjoy 1:54’s educational programme, ‘Forum’. A fundamental sense of reaching out infuses the show. Kouoh, who “refutes limited outlooks”, wants 1:54 to foster exchange between African and European artists.
The African art market
Over the last few years the growing African art market has been causing a buzz in London sale rooms. “Julie Mehretu or El Anatsui with 'New World Map', for example, achieved a world record sale at Bonhams in 2012,” says Kouoh. “At Dak’Art (the 11th Biennale of Contemporary African Art), I encountered incredible artistic activity and some of my favourite artists there, Joël Andrianomearisoa and Marcia Kure, who were both included in 1:54.”
So, why London?
“Because the city is particularly welcoming to new platforms in art and culture,” explains Kouoh. “We hope to challenge preconceptions and provide a showcase to audiences who are already engaged, involved and who understand the ways in which contemporary African art is culturally defined.” Sounds good, and unlike certain other art fairs, the beautiful surrounds of Somerset House are a far cry from the Frieze tent.
|What||1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2014, Somerset House|
|Where||Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Temple (underground)|
16 Oct 14 – 19 Oct 14, 12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£15, concessions £7|
|Website||Click here for more information|