The fair’s clear highlight, though, is not for sale. “Malick Sidibé: The Eye of Modern Mali,” presented by 1:54 in collaboration with MAGNIN-A and installed in the main hall, consists of 45 photographs that chronicle the nightlife and style of Bamako. The black-and-white gelatin silver prints honor the artist’s singular contributions to his medium, as well as to the visibility of African art. “No African artist has done more to enhance photography’s stature in the region, contribute to its history, enrich its image archive, or increase our awareness of the textures and transformations of African culture in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st than Malick Sidibé,” reads the wall text.
At a fair where success will be determined by sales, it seems that its crowning achievement is its ability to gather together, every year, both historically important work by black artists and the latest contemporary offerings—giving a vivid snapshot of the concerns of black artists from all over the world.