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1:54 Contemporary Art Fair

1:54.

This number is the continent to country ratio in Africa. It is also the name of a contemporary art organization hoping to bring African art to the worldwide primary art market.

This week, the fifth annual 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair was held in London. Moroccan founder and curator, Touria El Glaoui is the daughter of Hassan El Glaoui, one of Morocco’s most prominent visual artists. El Glaoui first organized the 1:54 art fair in 2013 as a show in London.

This year, the fair showcased 42 galleries, featuring 130 artists, marking it as the biggest festival yet. In addition to visual art, London’s program also included artist talks, discussions, and several pieces of performance art by performers including Hana Tefrati and Adejoke Tugbiyele.

Performer Tefrati works with themes of queer identity, the body in movement, and social spaces of interaction. Her piece, Desire Paths, means to bring attention to the spaces the queer community occupies in Morocco, where she currently works.

 Photo: 1-54.com, courtesy of Mint Works

Photo: 1-54.com, courtesy of Mint Works

Tugbiyele’s piece is titled Shifting the Waves: The Mask, The Boat, The Broom, The Box. It invites the audience to consider both the power of movement in decolonization of religious and institutional structures and specifically the power of water. Tugbiyele is a native Brooklynite and currently works from Harlem.

 Photo: 1-54.com, courtesy of Tugbiyele

Photo: 1-54.com, courtesy of Tugbiyele

In February, the fair will launch an edition in Marakech, Morocco--the first time the fair will appear in an African country. Debuting the fair in Africa has been a long-time goal of El Glaoui.

Since 2013, the fair has expanded to include pop-ups in other cities. In May 2018, the fair will return to New York as a smaller selection of artists for its annual pop-up show at the venue Pioneer Works as part of the Frieze Art Fair New York.

1:54 provides the unique opportunity to experience the work of artists, styles, and cultures that are not otherwise widely recognized.