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1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora, has announced the programme of Special Projects, 1-54 Forum and a new publication for its ninth London edition, taking place at Somerset House, 14 – 17 October 2021 (preview days, Thursday 14 and Friday 15) featuring 48 galleries from 23 countries.

1-54 Special Projects

1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission: Lakwena Maciver For the 1-54 Courtyard Sculpture Commission, London-based artist Lakwena Maciver will be producing 20 large-scale and interactive basketball paintings in her signature bold style with the support of Vigo Gallery. Her approach is instinctive and autodidactic, producing immersive installations employing acid bright colour and bold typographic text.

Along with the basketball paintings that will take over the courtyard this Autumn, Lakwena Maciver’s powerful Nothing Can Separate Us flags will fill the Somerset House West Wing corridor. Each of the 7 flags has been hand-stitched and boast a unique colour combination. First conceived as a painting in 2020, the work has evolved into a larger series taking on a wider meaning after the world witnessed the harsh reality of the coronavirus pandemic. As we have all slowly emerged out of lockdown, the message on the flags still resonates deeply. The flag installation at Somerset House follows a public installation by the artist in Covent Garden, where flags bearing the same Nothing Can Separate Us message lined King Street and Henrietta Street. Based in London, Lakwena employs bright colour and bold text to create paintings which, often appearing in public spaces in the form of murals, can be understood as “escape routes, afrofuturistic portals to utopia”.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Lakwena Maciver, Basketball courts, Pine Bluff, curated by Justkids.art. Courtesy of Vigo Gallery; Abdias Nascimento, Eternity,1972. Courtesy of 01.01 ArtPlatform.LEFT TO RIGHT: Lakwena Maciver, Basketball courts, Pine Bluff, curated by Justkids.art. Courtesy of Vigo Gallery; Abdias Nascimento, Eternity,1972. Courtesy of 01.01 ArtPlatform.

Lakwena means ‘messenger’ in the northern Ugandan language Acholi. Born in 1986, her name is reflected in her artistic practice, which is concerned with messages. Her eye-catching paintings explore and gently subvert ideas relating to decolonisation, redemption, escapism, Afrofuturism, and utopia.

Lakwena’s work has been shown in cities globally including London, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Paris. Her work has also appeared in public spaces from Tate Britain, Somerset House, Facebook and the Southbank Centre in London, to the Bowery Wall in New York, a juvenile detention centre in Arkansas and a monastery in Vienna.

Christie’s King Street Exhibition: REDEFINING THE TREND – Histories in the Making

Art historian, critic and curator Christine Eyene has curated a special exhibition at Christie’s King Street Gallery, from 09 – 15 October. REDEFINING THE TREND – Histories in the Making will explore how new artistic practices from Africa and the diaspora contribute to the definition of present aesthetics, discourses, and creative processes while opening new chapters in the continent’s art history. Bringing together works created over the past year, during what we have come to know as ‘unprecedented times,’ this exhibition will look at how artists have navigated the unknown through artistic visions that reasserted their creative approach allowing scope for experimentation.

01.01 Art Platform

01.01 Art Platform will have a booth at the fair presenting works by Mestre Didi, a master of ancestor worship and death rites, who was introduced to contemporary art through exhibitions such as Magicien de La Terre, and Abdias do Nascimento, a global exponent of pan-Africanism who lived and developed his artwork between Nigeria and the US during his exile and knew much about Yoruba, Ga and Ewe philosophies. 01.01 Art Platform will promote a mode of acquisition that recognises the systems of thought present in the pieces of art by matching one work by Mestre Didi with one by Abdias do Nascimento, in three distinct arrangements. 01.01 Art Platform intends to encourage a more ethical, sustainable, and committed approach to collecting contemporary art, focusing on art by artists from Africa and its diaspora, proposing a relationship with art and collecting that is grounded by the ethics and aesthetics of the African matrix.

Souad Abdelrassoul, Waiting, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 235 cm. Courtesy of Circle Art Gallery.Souad Abdelrassoul, Waiting, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 235 cm. Courtesy of Circle Art Gallery.

1-54 x Christie’s Limited Edition Tote Bag

1-54 and Christie’s will produce a new limited-edition tote bag to add to the collection with Souad Abdelrassoul’s work Waiting. Sale proceeds are donated to the African Culture Fund, a pan-African organisation supporting the arts education sectors and cultural and creative industries on the African continent. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Culture Fund has continued to support the resilience of African artists and cultural actors who were negatively impacted by the crisis. The limited-edition tote bags can be purchased on 1-54.com.

Somerset House: We Are History

To coincide with 1-54, Somerset House will present We Are History (14 October 2021 – 6 January 2022), a new group exhibition offering a different perspective on the human impact of the planet by tracing the complex interrelations between today’s climate crisis and legacies of colonialism. The exhibition spotlights the works of nine artists with personal connections to countries in the Caribbean, South America and Africa, bringing to the fore the perspectives of their communities, not as an afterthought in climate debates, but as the source of resonant ideas and imagery related to social and environmental justice. Curated by writer Ekow Eshun, and showcasing photography, prints, textile, installation and video, We Are History presents works that are moving, lyrical and thought-provoking, capturing nature as a place of both beauty and fragility.

1-54 Forum Talks Programme

Now in its ninth year, 1-54 will be accompanied by 1-54 Forum, the fair’s talks and events programme, including film screenings, performances and panel discussions with international curators, artists and cultural producers. Dr Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation, has been invited to guest curate the talks programme for the first time. Entitled Continental Drift, the programme is a choreography that will unfold in slow-motion over the course of 1-54 London, exploring this interstitial moment in history. 1-54 Forum will explore the concept of the drift as a moment for gradual reflection – a cumulative act of knowledge gathering, a dance from one end of the continent to another, oscillating gently, deep time in and in constant motion.

Speakers include Khalid Abdalla, Hoor Al Qasimi, Princess Alia Al Senussi, Michael Armitage, Joanne Birnie-Danzker, Anaïs Duplan, Tamer El Said, Lubaina Himid CBE, Isaiah A. Hines, Bill Kouélany, Koyo Kouoh, Hope Masike, Otobong Nkanga, Osinachi, Berni Searle and Sumayya Vally, among others.

For the full programme and lineup of speakers please visit 1-54.com.

The 1-54 Annual Book

Having published over 15 highly regarded and celebrated fair catalogues since its founding in 2013, 1- 54 is proud to announce the creation of a new publication which is set to be launched at our London edition: The 1-54 Annual Book.

The 1-54 Annual Book brings together all the artists, galleries and programming presented by 1-54 over a single year. The inaugural 1-54 Annual Book is a substantial endeavour that will include four editions of the fair from 2020 – 2021: 1-54 London 2020; 1-54 Paris 2021; 1-54 New York 2021 and 1-54 London 2021.

Alongside a biography and work for every artist presented (300+) and a profile about every gallery (60+), the book also includes transcriptions of three of the most impactful and memorable panel discussions at 1-54 Forum and unique artist interviews.

The 1-54 Annual Book, is a reflection of a year of challenges where adaptation was the keyword. It is a statement of creativity, innovation, resilience, and a commitment to the broader mission: the fair’s dedication to showcasing contemporary art from Africa and its diasporas.

Available for pre-order on BigCartel and Amazon

Title: The 1-54 Annual Book 2020/2021

Pages: 404

Images: 350

Price: £29.00

Size: 19 x 25.5 cm

ISBN: 978-1-9164108-6-2

Purchase: Online (BigCartel and Amazon) and at 1-54 London 2021

Touria El Glaoui, Founding Director of 1-54, said: “This year we are thrilled to present an edition of many notable firsts for 1-54 and such an exciting line-up of Special Projects for our 2021 London fair. We cannot wait to see Lakwena Maciver’s Courtyard Commission come to life and the return of our 1- 54 Forum talks programme which has been curated by our dear friend Dr. Omar Kholeif. These times have been particularly challenging, but we have turned them into a source of inspiration, launching ournew 1-54 Annual Book as a statement of resilience and creativity. We cannot wait for you to see it and of course as always we look forward to welcoming new visitors and old friends alike in October.”

About Touria El Glaoui, Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Touria El Glaoui is the Founding Director of the leading international art fair, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which takes place in London, New York and Marrakech every year. Touria El Glaoui was listed amongst the 50 most powerful women in Africa by Jeune Afrique magazine in 2015, 2018 and 2019. She is Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française since February 2020. Born and raised in Morocco, El Glaoui completed her education in New York before beginning a career in the banking industry as a wealth management consultant. After 10 years, she relocated to London, where she initiated 1-54 in 2013. Parallel to her career, Touria has organised and co-curated exhibitions of her father’s work, Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui, in London and Morocco. She has spoken widely and chaired numerous discussions on contemporary African art and women in leadership at international organisations.

About Dr Omar Kholeif, 1-54 Forum London 2021 Curator

Born in Egypt to Egyptian and Sudanese parents, Dr Omar Kholeif is a writer, curator, cultural historian, and Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation. Trained as a political scientist, Kholeif’s career began as a journalist and documentary filmmaker before entering the picture palace of museums. Concerned with the means through which technologies intersect with debates around QT, postcolonial, and critical race theory. They have curated more than one hundred exhibitions of art, design, and architecture on six continents and are the author, coauthor, or editor of thirty-three books, which have been translated into twelve languages. Recent volumes include Goodbye, World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age (Sternberg, 2018); The Artists Who Will Change The World (Thames and Hudson, 2018) and Art in the Age of Anxiety (SAF/Mörel/MIT Press, 2021). They are currently at work on a monograph entitled Internet Art: The First Thirty Years (Phaidon, 2022) and an anthology of essays entitled Code-Switchers: The Art of Being Invisible (2022).

About Somerset House London’s working arts centre

Somerset House is London’s working arts centre and home to the UK’s largest creative community. Built on historic foundations, we are situated in the very heart of the capital. Dedicated to backing progress, championing openness, nurturing creativity and empowering ideas, our cultural programme is ambitious in scope. We insist on relevance, but aren’t afraid of irreverence, and are as keen on entertainment as enrichment. We embrace the biggest issues of our times and are committed to oxygenating new work by emerging artists. Where else can you spend an hour ice-skating while listening to a specially commissioned sound piece by a cutting edge artist? It is this creative tension – the way we harness our heritage, put the too-often overlooked on our central stage and use our neo-classical backdrop to showcase ground-breaking contemporary culture – that inspires our programme. Old and new, history and disruption, art and entertainment, high-tech and homemade, combined with the fact that we are home to a constantly shape-shifting working creative community: this is our point of difference. It is what we are proud of. And it is what makes the experience of visiting or working in Somerset House inspiring and energising, urgent and exciting. www.somersethouse.org.uk

About Christie’s

Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, had auction sales in 2019 that totalled £4.5 billion / $5.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectables, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery. Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. *Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price – see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue. *Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.

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