Inaugural Contemporary African Art Fair in Paris Canceled after Paris and Bamako Terror Attacks

Organizers initially insisted the event would go ahead.

The fair was scheduled to take place in Paris' Carreau du Temple. Photo: carreaudutemple.eu

Organizers have announced that the first edition of the Paris-based fair for contemporary African art Also Known as Africa (AKAA), will not take place due to concerns over attendance in the wake of terror attacks in the French capital and the Malian capital, Bamako.

The new fair sought to position itself as a competitor to the London and New York based 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair and was scheduled to take place from December 3-6 at the Carreau du Temple, near Place de la République.

In the immediate aftermath of the November 13 attacks on Paris, organizers insisted that the event will go ahead. Director Victoria Mann said that the event should not be intimidated into closing by terrorism.

The fair was founded as a competitor to the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Photo: lemonde.fr

The fair was founded as a competitor to the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair.
Photo: lemonde.fr

A statement on the website assured that “despite the horror and sadness, we decided to continue AKAA […] We must act together to celebrate life and peace, and the important role that art and culture have to play in this spirit.” Organizers reassured that “all necessary precautions” would be taken to ensure the safety of visitors and participants.

On November 20, invitations for the launch cocktail were sent out. Later that day, Africa was rocked by a deadly attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako; still, organizers pledged to persevere.

However, when the Belgian government implemented the highest terror threat level locking down the entire country over the weekend, three galleries pulled out of the fair, Le Figaro reported.

Director Victoria Mann eventually cancelled the event amid concerns over the sustainability of the event. Photo: lemonde.fr

Director Victoria Mann eventually canceled the event amid concerns over the sustainability of the event.
Photo: lemonde.fr

Fearing “a snowball effect,” Mann eventually pulled the plug on Tuesday fearing that other galleries would follow suit and perhaps more significantly, that collectors from the important Benelux countries would be discouraged from attending.

In a statement, the director said “60 percent of our participants consist of foreign galleries and artists, some of whom have shared deep concerns and recanted. We are forced to announce the obvious: a fair that does not meet its audience would be pointless for all participants (artists, galleries and collectors.) If economic results do not meet expectations we compromise the sustainability of the fair.”

Rather than compromise the future of the event, the launch was postponed to 2016.

The news comes after the final two days of the Parisian photography fair Paris Photo were canceled after the Paris attacks.


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