Resistance Will Be the Focus at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

The fair announces its FORUM programming.

1:54 FORUM's curator, Koyo Kouoh, 2017. © Antoine Tempé.

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair has announced the lineup for its annual 1:54 FORUM talks program. This year’s roster features Raél Jero Salley, professor in art history at Maryland Institute College of Art, as the keynote speaker.

Curator Koyo Kouoh—founder and artistic director of RAW Material Company—describes the three-day event as a selection of educational programming centered around the role of art as a means of creative activism to resist, rather than react to oppression. “As artist methodologies filter into and blur academic disciplines, activist, and social practices, we look to the radical traditions of art-making in search of strategies for political liberation,” she said in a statement.

Other featured participants heading to Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the fair’s third edition include Adrienne Edwards, curator at Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center and New York’s Performa; Thomas J. Lax, curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art; Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi, curator of African art at Hood Museum of Art at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College; and curator Nicola Vassell, founder of Concept NV.

2016 Panel discussion, moderated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi. © Katrina Sorrentino.

2016 Panel discussion, moderated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi. © Katrina Sorrentino.

The scholars and curators will mediate conversations with artists including Derrick Adams, Charles Gaines, Malik Gaines, Alexandro Segade, Sadie Barnette, Odili Donald Odita, Adam Pendleton, Sondra Perry, and Tschabalala Self—and for the second year, Performa and 1:54 team up to present 1:54 PERFORMS, curated in 2017 by Edwards. The performance program will feature musician/artist duo Mendi and Keith Obadike’s newly commissioned work, Vectors (Pan Africa), which will be transmitted throughout the external structure and lobby areas of Pioneer Works, in a sonic-nod to African individualism and nationalism.  

In the current climate of political turbulence, and a tenuous future for art funding, thoughtfully mediated discourse is a welcome antidote to knee-jerk internet commentary.

Entry to the talks is free with admission to 1:54, which will take place at Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works from May 5–7. 

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