Artsy’s Five-Point Field Guide to 1:54

Returning to London for its second edition, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair brings the African art world to an international stage. Notable participating galleries include October Gallery, Taymour Grahne Gallery, and ArtLab Africa, among others, and mediums range from sculptures and installations, to paintings and multimedia works. As a forum for showcasing African artists and projects related to Africa, 1:54 highlights the latest offerings and insights into the growing market for African art. 

1. When? Where? How?

1:54 takes place October 16th–19th at Somerset House, London, open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the fair. 

2. Why visit? 

In its second edition, 1:54 is unique in that it is designed for promoting African art and African-related projects. Showcasing work from 27 galleries, 1:54 offers an inside look at the innovations and contemporary movements emerging from Africa. In addition, it will include an extensive educational and artistic program curated by Koyo Kouoh, curator and founding director of RAW Material Company, a center for art in Dakar. The programming will include lectures, film screenings, and discussions between leading curators, artists, and art advisors. 

3. What kinds of works will be included?

The artists showing at the fair span several generations and work with a diverse range of material. Galleries exhibiting at the fair come from across the world, including Kenya, South Africa, Italy, the United States, and the United Kingdom. 

4. What events are being hosted at the fair?

The forum program includes film screenings, lectures, and discussions led by artists and curators. Forum takes place in the Screening Room of Somerset House. Entry is included in general admission, however space is limited and seat reservations must be made here in advance

The schedule is as follows:

Friday October 17th

12 p.m.–1 p.m. Film screenings by artists Meschac Gaba, Miriam Syowia Kyambi, James Muriuki, Ibrahim Mahama, and Otobong Nkanga. 

1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Artist talk featuring Koyo Kouoh in conversation with Miriam Syowia Kyambi and James Muriuki. 

3:00 pm.–4:00 p.m. Artist talk with Osei Bonsu, independent writer and curator, in conversation with Ibrahim Mahama.

4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m. Artist talk with Christine Eyene, Guild Research Fellow at the School of Art, Design, and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston in conversation with Billie Zangewa and Marcia Kure on texture, forms, and fabrics. 

Saturday October 18

12 p.m.–1 p.m. Film screenings by artists Sammy Baloji, Ato Malinda, Athi-Prata Ruga, and Zina Saro-Wiwa. 

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Artist talk with Elvira Dyangani Ose, curator of international art at the Tate Modern, and curator at Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA) 2015, in conversation with Sammy Baloji. 

4:00 pm.–5:30 pm. Artist talk with Koyo Kouoh in conversation with artist Zina Saro-Wiwa on nurturing artistic environments through the experiences of Boys’ Quarters Project Space in Port Harcourt and RAW Material Company in Dakar. 

Sunday October 19

12 p.m.–1 p.m. Film screenings by artists Derrick Adams, Andrew Esiebo, Dan Halter, Cameron Platter, and Barthélémy Togou.

2 p.m.– 3 p.m. Gallery talk with Henri Vergon, director of Afronova Gallery, Johannesburg and Elisabeth Lalouschek, art director and art sales at October Gallery, London, in conversation with Cornell DeWitt, vice president of business development at artnet, New York, on promoting contemporary African art in the international art market. 

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Artist talk with Simon Njami, writer, curator, and co-founder of the seminal magazine Revue Noire, on the establishment of a canon with artists Sokari Douglas Camp and Abdoulaye Konate

5:00 pm.–6 p.m. Collector Talk with Sindika Dokolo building a collection of African contemporary art. 

5. Are there any events going on in tandem with the fair?

Frieze London and Frieze Masters will be held in Regents Park at the same time as 1:54. Showcasing both contemporary art and work produced before 2000, both fairs highlight the world’s offerings in fine art. At the same time, there are many notable shows occurring throughout London, such as Anselm Kiefer’s retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts, Glenn Ligon at Camden Arts Centre, and “Rembrandt: The Late Works” at the National Gallery

Newlin Tillotson

Explore 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2014 on Artsy.