African Art Fair 1:54 Comes to New York During Frieze Week

Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, will host the inaugural New York outing of the 1:54 art fair, focusing on African art.

Can New York accommodate another art fair the same week as the fourth outing of Frieze New York? 1:54, a fair that focuses on contemporary art from Africa, will make its New York debut May 15-17, when Frieze and its many satellite fairs take place. Including about 15 galleries, 1:54 will set up shop at Pioneer Works, a Brooklyn-based arts nonprofit that makes its home in a 24,000-square-foot former factory. London architecture and design firm RA Projects, founded in 2009 by Rashid Ali, has been tapped to design the fair’s layout. The “54” refers to the number of countries in Africa, according to the organizers.

Founded by Moroccan-born Touria El Glaoui, the fair was first staged at London arts venue Somerset House in 2013, when the boutique fair had just 17 exhibitors, half of them hailing from Africa. The second iteration grew to 27 galleries; and the third London fair will take place in October.

While some of the artists will doubtless be new to Western audiences, some have received notable exposure, including Romuald Hazoumè, who showed with London’s October gallery at the fair in 2013 and won the Arnold Bode Prize at Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany.

Exhibitors for the New York fair haven’t yet been named. Among the exhibitors in London this past October there were many international galleries including A Palazzo (Brescia, Italy), Carpe Diem (Ségou, Mali), and Taymour Grahne Gallery (New York). “We were very impressed with the organization of the fair,” Grahne told artnet News via e-mail. “We sold well to some major global collectors. All the top curators passed by.”

El Glaoui got her start in banking and has worked for several years in London in the telecom and IT businesses but she’s had some experience curating and staging shows. She’s the daughter of Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui, and has organized exhibitions of his work in Casablanca and at the Marrakech Biennial, where she is a trustee. One of her past curatorial projects is a show of the paintings of her father and none other than Winston Churchill.

Cameroonian-born curator Koyo Kouoh will direct a program of talks and discussions.


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