Due to Rising Omicron Cases, the 1-54 African Art Fair Has Called Off Its Marrakech Edition for the Second Year in a Row

All galleries set to participate in the Marrakech fair will be included in the new event, set to take place in April at Christie’s Paris.

La Mamounia, Marrakech, Morocco. Courtesy 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

Citing travel restrictions and other concerns related to the Omicron variant, the organizers of the 1-54 fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora have made the “difficult decision” to call off their 2022 event in Marrakech, originally set for March. Like last year, the fair will hold a substitute event at Christie’s branch in Paris instead.

“The reality of the present world situation and the uncertainty of travel restrictions, alongside other factors, are profoundly affecting our future plans,” the group said in a statement. “This decision is informed by the fact that the current context is not conducive to an experience worthy of what we have been able to uphold in previous editions.”

The organizers added that “1-54 Marrakech will be back as soon as health conditions allow it.”

The Paris event will take place from April 7 to 10, according to the Art Newspaper. A spokesperson for 1-54 told Artnet News that all galleries set to participate in the Marrakech fair will be included in the Paris version, but did not specify the names of those exhibitors. The fair’s organizers do not plan to issue any refunds to participating galleries. 

Further details about the new event will be announced in the coming days, but a representative said that “the Paris fair will be the same size as Marrakech and…potentially bigger.” 

Morocco’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. The country’s borders have been closed since November, with a commercial flight ban currently in place until January 31. Facing pushback from airlines and other businesses, the government announced today it would provide $220 million to boost the struggling tourist industry.

This is the second year in a row the Marrakech fair has been shifted outside of Africa. The 2021 edition was similarly moved to Christie’s Paris headquarters, where 18 galleries ultimately set up shop from January ​​20 to 23. The event was also hosted on the auction house’s website.

1-54 has held three events in the Moroccan city since expanding there in 2018—the only branch of the African art fair to take place in Africa. The London and New York iterations of the fair were founded in 2013 and 2015, respectively.  

The 2022 editions of those latter events are expected to take place as planned. The New York fair is scheduled for May, while the London version is set for October. 

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