This Frieze week, the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is back. 1:54 launched in 2013 in London by Touria El Glaoui, having made its debut New York last year, and features both works by established and emerging artists. The galleries present works by artists connected to one of the 54 countries on the continent. This year 1:54 takes place again at artist Dustin Yellin’s Pioneer Works, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The invitation-only fair features over 100 works from 64 artists representing 27 countries from the continent and diaspora. 1:54 also includes programming that seeks to fully contextualize the latest in contemporary African art right now.
“The objective of 1:54 is to give visibility to contemporary African artists and artists from the diaspora,” explains the 1:54 founder, Touria El Glaoui, to the Creators Project. “The fact that these artists haven’t been in the market before was a problem for me. I really wanted to target the main art cities of the world, which are New York and London, and make sure that visibility was accessible to contemporary African artists and the artists from the diaspora.” She adds, “The reaction has been positive and we had an audience who wanted to know more and a few exhibitions throughout the U.S. came out of what was seen here at 1:54 last year.”
This year’s 1:54 New York features works by some artists who showed last year. Lawerence Lemaoana’s fabric work, The Rat King, represents the South African artist’s return to the fair. Billie Zangewa’s silk tapestry painting, Divine Intervention, and William Kentridge’s Nose 21 represent a second round of works at the fair by both artists. 1:54 also features sculptures by Frances Goodman. Lilith, a colorful flower-like wall sculpture is comprised of hundreds of acrylic nails. It points to the artist’s exploration of feminism, female beautification, and how societal pressures lead to desires for aesthetic perfection. Photography is also prominently on display at 1:54. The Ethiopian artist Aida Muluneh’s Sai Mado, The Distant Gaze, deals with the ways in which identity and memory are shaped by immigrant experiences. The fair also features a photo work, Please Come Back, by New York-based artist Derrick Adams.