Smaller art fairs plan to go ahead with physical editions in London and Paris this fall.
A gallery assistant poses next to works by Hassan Hajjaj at the 2017 edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images.
With virtually all of 2020’s major art fairs cancelled or rendered digital around the globe, a pair of smaller fairs have announced they will proceed with scaled-down, in-person editions. London’s 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which was founded in 2013, and France’s Paris Internationale, founded in 2015, have both announced that they will proceed with live editions this October. The former typically runs concurrent with Frieze London, which has been canceled, the latter typically coincides with FIAC, which has not been canceled. In addition to scaling down, both fairs will be adjusting their setups with safety precautions and pairing their in-person attendance with online viewing rooms.
Paris Internationale announced in a press release that the forthcoming edition of their fair “will take the form of an exhibition” rather than a typical fair structure, and that participants will display artworks salon-style in an “airy yet intimate venue.” The French fair is not requiring exhibitors to take part in the physical exhibition, offering the alternative option of displaying artworks digitally in their forthcoming online viewing room.
The 1:54 fair will run as planned at London’s Somerset House, but will downscale its exhibitor list to 25 to 30 galleries. The fair’s visitor numbers will be restricted, a time-slot ticketing system will be implemented, and there will be a one-way walking system through the fair. Touria El Glaoui, the founding director of 1:54, told The Art Newspaper:
It has been a difficult three months, trying to decide what to do—I think every possibility has come into my mind. [. . .] We have to abide by Somerset House’s visitor number restrictions and so are restricted to around 900 visitors at a time, but we would never get to that number anyway.
El Glaoui also told TAN that, organizers “are working out how some African galleries, who are unable to travel in person due to restrictions, can participate by sending works to be exhibited.”