Promoting Creativity

Khadija, photograph by ©Hassan Hajjaj. 2010/1431. Courtesy of the Artist.



1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Somerset House, London
5 – 8 October 2017

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary African art, has announced the programme of special projects for its fifth London edition, taking place at Somerset House, 5 – 8 October, with a VIP & Press preview on 4 October 2017.

In partnership with Somerset House, 1:54 will present Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane (5 October 2017 – 7 January 2018), the first UK solo exhibition of the British-Moroccan artist in seven years, showcasing new and celebrated works. Hajjaj's multi-layered works fuse traditional and contemporary North African culture with familiar Western imagery and iconography. He is best known for his photographic portraits, including the Kesh Angels series, from which there will be several new works in the exhibition. Blending the glossy aesthetic of a fashion shoot with Moroccan street culture, these images challenge Western perceptions of the hijab and female disempowerment. Another new body of work in the exhibition is My Rock Stars: Volume 2, a video installation of nine screens, each occupied by a distinctively dressed musician. Launching at 1:54, the exhibition will continue throughout Somerset House's winter season.

1:54 will also take over the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House for the second consecutive year, with Summer Surprise, a specially-conceived installation by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou (Galleria Continua). The installation references togunas, public structures native to Mali that facilitate debate and intellectual exchange, and invites visitors to 1:54 to initiate their own discussions. Tayou was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in 2015, and he has also contributed to major events including Documenta 11 (2002) and the fourth Tate Triennial (2009).

The 1:54 Lounge will be designed by multidisciplinary artist Rashaad Newsome in collaboration with the Vosay Collection. Newsome, who is best known for his opulent assemblages and performance and video works documenting the dance form known as 'vogue', draws inspiration from American hip-hop and west African antiquities to celebrate African-American culture. The artist's capsule collection of furniture pieces for the 1:54 Lounge will continue his interrogation into Western understanding of Dada, Cubism and Surrealism, movements that he feels connected to, in part because of their strong African inheritance.

Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh will present a sound installation, commissioned by Modern Forms. This piece will be a multi-channel sound installation that combines the serenading properties of the Ọja (Igbo flute) with spoken or sung words into a sonic ode to African renaissance. Emeka Ogboh is a pioneer of sound art on the African continent. He primarily works with sound, video and photography by way of investigating the acute historical, economic and social infrastructure of cities, and, in particular, his city of residence, Lagos. His works have appeared in major international venues, including the Documenta 14 in 2017, the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 and DAK'ART Biennale in 2014.

Nando's, 1:54 Silver Sponsor, will present works for sale by four Southern African artists: Henk Serfontein, Marlise Keith, Patrick Bongoy and Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi. Nando's was founded in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987 and its restaurants house one of the largest publicly displayed bodies of contemporary Southern African art in the world, with over 8000 pieces in the UK alone. In partnership with Spier Arts Trust, Nando's is presenting works from the Creative Block programme for sale at the 1:54 Bookshop. Creative Block gives emerging and established artists the opportunity to earn a regular income by transforming blank blocks in a medium and style of their choice, receiving critical curatorial feedback and exposure to new audiences in the process.

Ahead of the first Marrakech edition of the fair in February 2018, 1:54 will showcase two Marrakech-based creative platforms in London. Experimental artist-run space Mint Works will present a performance by Hana Tefrati, in which she will transform a corridor in the West Wing of Somerset House into 'desire path',to call attention to the marginal spaces that the queer community occupies in Morocco. Independent exhibition space Le 18 will present I Screen, a programme focused on video art, short films and the documentary form from both regional and international artists, that will explore ideas around movement, exile, migration and identity.

Adejoke Tugbiyele will perform Shifting the Waves, a new work exploring the liberating and transformative powers of movement in decolonising institutional and religious structures between Africa and the West. Tugbiyele is an award-winning, queer, black artist and advocate represented by October Gallery, London. Her practice explores global LGBTQ human rights issues and her own identity as a queer woman of Nigerian descent.

Goodman Gallery will present a daily film screening 12-1pm for the duration of the fair, including work by artists Hank Willis Thomas, Tabita Rezaire and Kiluanji Kia Henda among others. Since taking over directorship in 2008, Liza Essers has expanded the Gallery roster to include more than 30 new artists from the African continent, its diaspora, and the 'global South'.

The Senegalese center for art and development Thread, will present its residency program that allows both local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda. Thread, which is supported by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, also provides agricultural training, and promotes collaboration between these communities.

Somerset House's celebration of African art also includes a specially commissioned flag by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong exploring Afro-futurism and African diasporic identity. A resident of Somerset House Studios, the site's innovative workspace for multi-disciplinary artists, Achiampong's flag is an extension of his multidisciplinary project, Relic Traveller. The flag's design features 54 stars for the 54 African countries and a highly symbolic colour palette, taking a form suggestive of a human figure in flight: an afro-futuristic icon moving towards unity and equilibrium. Achiampong's flag will be raised above Somerset House on 25 July and will be on display for the duration of 1:54 and Hassan Hajjaj: La Caravane.

Touria El Glaoui, Director of 1:54, said: "We are thrilled to announce such an exciting line-up of Special Projects for the fifth anniversary edition of 1:54 London, which is our most ambitious to date and strengthens our already amazing mix of galleries with additional voices and perspectives. It is especially exciting for us to be collaborating with Somerset House once again to present a major exhibition of British-Moroccan master portraitist Hassan Hajjaj ahead of the launch of 1:54 Marrakech in 2018."

For the fifth year in a row, 1:54 will be accompanied by FORUM, the fair's extensive talks and events programme, including artist talks and panel discussions with international curators, artists and cultural producers. FORUM is curated by Koyo Kouoh, Artistic Director of RAW Material Company, Dakar. The full programme will be announced in September.

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