1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair has announced an expanded programme of exhibitions and special projects for the 2016 edition of the London fair, taking place in Somerset House, 6– 9 October 2016.
1:54 and Somerset House, in collaboration with MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris, present Malick Sidibé (6 October–15 January 2017), the first major solo exhibition in the UK of the late Malian photographer. Sidibé is known for his black-and-white images chronicling the lives and culture of the Malian capital, Bamako, in the wake of the country’s independence. The exhibition will present 45 original prints from the 1960s and 1970s around three defined themes: ‘Au Fleuve Niger / Beside the Niger River’, ‘Tiep à Bamako / Nightlife in Bamako’, and ‘Le Studio / The Studio’. Sidibé was the first photographer, and first African artist, to receive a Gold Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Other significant awards include The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2003, as well as the Infinity Award from International Center of Photography in 2008 and winning the Arts and Entertainments category at the World Press Photo competition in 2010. Launching at 1:54, the exhibition will continue throughout Somerset House’s winter season.
For the first time, 1:54 will also take over the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House, with an installation by Zak Ové (Vigo Gallery). Inspired by, and in reaction to, the heritage of Somerset House and an early Jacobean era court masque, the Masque of Blackness, Ové’s resin and jesmonite sculptures will posit a Nubian army of masked men within the fountains, reclaiming the grand surroundings of historical British establishment for diasporic beauty.
The Arab Spring Notebook by Ibrahim El-Salahi, one of the artist’s key works and one of the most important cultural responses to the Arab Spring, will be exhibited in a special project presented by Modern Forms and Floreat Group, 1:54’s main sponsor. Ibrahim El-Salahi is widely acknowledged as the godfather of African Modernism. In 2013, the Tate Modern staged a major retrospective of El-Salahi’s work, the first devoted by the museum to an African artist, and he is represented in numerous collections including the Tate, MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Sharjah Foundation and the Guggenheim.
Addis Foto Fest, the biannual photography festival directed by award winning photographer Aida Muluneh, will present the special exhibition ‘PIE: Photography in Ethiopia’ at 1:54 this October. Alongside photographs by Muluneh (David Krut Projects), the exhibition will preview works by artists participating in the festival in Ethiopia in December 2016, including Aron Simeneh, Netsanet Fekadu, Mekbib Tadesse, Belete Tekele, Girma Berta and Yafet Daniel.
Alexandra Karakashian (SMAC Gallery) will create a site-specific installation for 1:54. ‘PASSAGE’ will be thematically rooted in Karakashian’s ongoing exploration of her family’s escape from the Armenian Genocide of 1915, migration through the African continent and eventual settling in Johannesburg. The work will highlight society’s relationship to landscape and place while confronting binaries of black and white, and reflect on current issues at the forefront of Euro-African relations, such as exile, migration and ecological crises.
Works by four contemporary African artists: Regi Bardavid, Lizette Chirrime, Pat Mautloa and Maurice Mbikayi will be presented at 1:54 by Nando’s, in collaboration with Yellowwoods Art. Nando’s was founded in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987 and its UK restaurants house one of the largest contemporary South African art collections in the world.
Artist and designer Ifeanyi Oganwu (Expand Design Ltd) will collaborate with Galerie Armel Soyer, textile design firm Toghal and visual artist Phoebe Boswell on a group of works for the 1:54 Lounge. In 2015, the Vitra Design Museum included his Splice chair in the travelling exhibition ‘Making Africa, A Continent of Contemporary Design’.
DJ, radio host and curator Gilles Peterson’s new global music-radio platform Worldwide FM will broadcast live from 1:54 for three days, incorporating DJs and musicians from the African diaspora, artist interviews and discussion. Artist Robi Walters will be presenting work in the broadcast room.
Revue Noire, the French publishing house dedicated to African art, has been invited to curate a selection of photography books for the 1:54 Bookshop. The selected publications will include original prints.
Bandjoun Station, a non-for-profit art centre created by artist Barthelemy Toguo in his hometown in Cameroon, will present Mobile Cafeteria at 1:54. The cafeteria will be conceived on the model of the ‘tournedos cafés’ in Africa and will offer an opportunity to taste the coffee produced in Bandjoun.
For the fifth consecutive edition, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair will partner with Artsy to present the official online catalogue of the fair. Launching 29 September 2016, this feature will provide users with the opportunity to explore artworks, artists, and galleries from the fair, as well as 1:54 programming and events, a week in advance of its opening. Available via Artsy.net or the Artsy app for iPhone and iPad, the Artsy platform offers the ability to save favourite artworks and follow artists for future updates, and allows collectors to place sales inquiries directly with galleries.