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15.10.2014 ART FAIR

Athi-Patra Ruga: The Night of the Long Knives III.

Contemporary African Art Fair

While all art eyes are on rainy London in October when Frieze Art Fair opens, a new fair on the London scene, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, dedicated to contemporary African art, returns. One to fifty-four corresponds to the number of countries located on the African continent and this art fair, running now for the second year, exclusively focuses on African artists.

AF Lotte Løvholm

Sommerset House, London
16-19 October 2014

16-19 October 1:54 Contemporary African Art fair will host 27 galleries, some of them based in Africa, and present a talk and film program. The art fair obviously targets an implicit critique towards fairs like Frieze that has for many years left out ”African” artists. This boring tendency is slowly changing, which is one of the topics during the extensive talk program “Forum” when two gallery directors will discuss African art and the international art market with Cornell DeWitt from artnet. 

Other topics include fostering local art spaces when the art fair’s curator Koyo Koyou (director of Raw Material in Dakar) meets artist Zina Saro-Wiwa to talk about her initiative Boy’s Quarters Project Space in Nigeria. The term Boy’s Quarter originates from colonial times and refers to the home of servants often hidden behind the main house. The term is still used and gated houses owned by expats and rich Nigerians with servants living in boy’s quarters is no curiosity to this day. Saro-Wiwa is moving into the concept of Boy’s Quarter with her project that serves as an exhibition space, facilitating a critical space for artistic practice. 

The artists presented at 1:54 Art Fair are both well-established like Malian Abdoulaye Konate that explores spiritual worlds and political issues in his big textile sculptures and Beninese Meschac Gaba known for his twelve-room installation “Museum of Contemporary African Art” acquired in 2012 by Tate Modern and exhibited there last year. Then there are younger shooting stars like Zimbabweans Wycliffe Mundopa, Moffat Takadiwa and GreshamTapiwa Nyaude all represented by First Floor Gallery Harare. And young Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, currently exhibiting at Saatchi, will be giving a talk and screen a film on his current project where he is investigating the circulation of materials through jute sacks with huge installations covering buildings in Accra. 

In “Forum” there is also a film program presenting works by twenty artists, among them some of the continent’s most prominent performance artists, such as Athi-Patra Ruga, who in humoristic ways explores body politics and utopias, Ato Malinda with a documentation on her performance “On Fait Ensemble” that investigates cultural heritage and Otobong Nkanga, who presented a performance at Art Basel’s 14 rooms earlier this year.

Brahim Mahama

Meschac Gaba, Museum of Contemporary African Art.

Moffat Takadiwa: Disinformation Super Highway to Africa.

Wycliff Mundopa

Abdoulaye Konate: Symphonie no. 6 Année Dim.

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