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"Sailing Back to Africa as a Dutch Woman," 2017, from the series "Fortia." Photo by Keyezua, courtesy of Nataal.

8 African Art Events You Need To See In NYC This May

OkayAfrica's guide to African art in New York City this month.

The month of May is another prime moment of the year with art fairs around the world, especially with Frieze New York launching this week. The Big Apple will be graced with substantial satellite fairs for African art, including this year's New York addition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

Take a look at eight African art events you can't miss this month below.


1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair || Pioneer Works

"Untitled," Sanlé Sory. Photo courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery.

1-54 NY is the leading international art fair dedicated to promoting contemporary art from diverse African perspectives. Just coming off a successful launch on the continent in Marrakech, Morocco, its fourth edition is set to display works from 21 galleries from artists including Phoebe Boswell, Derrick Adams, Malick Sidibe, Gideon Appah, Ralph Ziman and more.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair runs from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

Without Qualities || Addis Fine Art + Private View New York

Luam Melake, "Black," 2017. Photo courtesy of Addis Fine Art.

Addis Fine Art (AFA) and Private View New York, a new private loft showroom in Soho, holds its first exhibition of Without Qualities, featuring AFA artists Tariku Shiferaw and Luam Melake. This collaboration brings together two phenomenal Ethiopian-American artists who fuse the cultural influences of their backgrounds and their lives in New York. Although their origins are similar, their artistic approaches and processes are what differ. Both artists do create abstract compositions using carefully selected multi-layered materials that represent the interconnectivity of art and industry, as well as portray abstract narratives that evoke the viewer's emotions and memory.

Without Qualities is open through Sunday, May 6, and can be viewed by appointment from Tuesday, May 8 to Thursday, May 31 at Private View in Soho.

PAPER Plains || Sotheby's Institute of Art

Sotheby's Institute of Art presents PAPER Plains, a solo exhibition of Kenyan artist Tahir Carl Karmali, curated by Klaudia Draber. Karmali's photographs, sculptures and a sound installation will be on view, exploring his longstanding interest in migrant identities and the sense of belonging in two recent bodies of work. One of which is PAPER:work, where Karmali tackles the complexities of identity of African migrants as shaped by nationality, authenticity, documentation and borders.

PAPER Plains is on view until Tuesday, May 8 at Sotheby's Institute of Art in Manhattan.

The Other Art Fair || Brooklyn Expo Center

"Holiday Duties" from Dennis Osadebe's "A Stranger In My Home" series. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Other Art Fair, presented by Saatchi Art, is a fair for a new generation of art buyers, as well as a place to discover and buy art direct from the very best of emerging talent. One of which is Nigerian artist Dennis Osadebe, the only artist representing the continent at the fair. Osadebe will be presenting a new series, entitled A Stranger In My Home, where he takes the elements of a home setting and infuses aesthetics inspired by his Nigerian heritage with neon masks as his reoccurring focus. Through the 10 works in this series, Osadebe takes on the idea of globalization and how cultures intersect today, reinforcing the idea of urban living hybrids.

The Other Art Fair runs from Thursday, May 3, through Sunday, May 6 at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

Nataal: New African Photography III || Red Hook Labs

"Ruth, Amina and the three Aisha's play 'In and Out'," 2017, Tatsuniya. Photo by Rahima Gambo, courtesy of Nataal.

Nataal presents New African Photography III, the third edition of its co-curated group exhibition with an all-female, star studded lineup, at Red Hook Labs. The media brand also announced the publication of their first print magazine. Featuring work from Fatoumata Diabaté (Mali), Rahima Gambo (Nigeria), Keyezua (Angola), Alice Mann (South Africa), Ronan Mckenzie (UK) and Ruth Ossai (Nigeria), the show will display a range of fresh perspectives from contemporary photography that address a diverse set of concers relating to representation, gender and identity. New African Photography III celebrates the launch of Nataal's debut print issue, where the large format, 336-page magazine showcases and collaborated with artists who are building diverse narratives in and about the spirit of Africa.

Nataal: New African Photography III runs from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 13 at Red Hook Labs.

Refraction: New Photography From Africa and Its Diaspora || Steven Kasher Gallery

"King Kane" by Stan Squirewell. Image courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery.

Refraction: New Photography of Africa and Its Diaspora is a photo exhibition presenting a generation of photographic artists of African descent born in the 1970s through the 1990s at Steven Kasher Gallery. These 12 artists, who reside from all over the world, portray black bodies in acts of cultural meditation, revive the traditional African rites of masking, costuming, quilting, body ornamentation and invocation of spirits, through their work. The works curated for Refraction are meant to bridge the gap between black stereotypes and black reality. The photos maneuver the complex relationship between innate identities and identities that have grown from social, political and cultural influences.

Refraction is on view until Saturday, June 2 at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea.

E-Moves 2018 || Harlem Stage

Omar Mizrahi. Photo by Robert Bader.

Harlem Stage presents its signature dance series, E-Moves, featuring works from three contemporary African choreographers in four nights this year. Each night will also feature a pop-up performance by up-and-coming young choreographers. Choreographers Lacina Coulibaly (Burkina Faso), Ousmane Wiles (Senegal) and Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe) were commissioned by Harlem Stage to develop new works or reimagine existing pieces from their choreographic canons; wrestling with questions that push the boundaries of what it means to be African in America now.

E-Moves 2018 runs from Wednesday, May 2 through Saturday, May 5. For tickets, check out Harlem Stage's website.

A Ugandan Spring || Triangle Arts Association

Photo courtesy of The Salooni Project.

32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust presents A Ugandan Spring, its first fundraiser at the Triangle Arts Association. In an evening of cocktails, silent auctions and games to fundraise for 32° East's programs, the event is an opportunity for aspiring and seasoned collectors of contemporary African art to view unique perspectives from an underrepresented market.

A Ugandan Spring takes place on Friday, May 4. For tickets and more information, click here.

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Stop What You're Doing Right Now and Watch Falz's New Video 'This Is Nigeria'

The Nigerian rapper tackles his country's social ills in his very own answer to Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

Nigerian rapper, Falz has been known to use his sharp brand of humor to address social ills in his country. Today he's taken it a step further with the release of a new song and video entitled "This is Nigeria" and the outcome is an audacious, decidedly necessary critique of Nigerian society inspired by Childish Gambino's viral video "This is America."

Falz opens the song with a voice over of his father the lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, discussing the consequences of rampant corruption and exploitation, before adding his own cutting criticism: "This is Nigeria, look how I'm living now, look how I'm living now. Everybody be criminal," he rhymes as chaos ensues all around him.

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Photo courtesy of Nike

The Secret Behind Nike's New Naija Football Kits are Nigerians Themselves

The story behind the bold new uniforms the Super Eagles will be wearing at this year's World Cup.

Partner content from Nike

The new Nigeria football kits are not even out yet, but they're already causing pandemonium with Nigerian press reporting that there have been already 3 million worldwide orders. And it's easy to see why—the designs are daring with a bold nod to Nigerian culture that is very in vogue right now. In addition, UK Grime MCs with Nigerian roots, Skepta and Tinie Tempah have already been photographed in the new jerseys causing a surge of social media chatter about the new look.

But while rock star endorsements and an edgy new design will certainly bring attention, there's no doubt that the real bulk of the demand is due to what is ramping up to be a significant moment in the history of Nigerian football—the 2018 World Cup.



If you don't already know, Nigeria is entering this year's World Cup in Russia with some of the most exciting young players we've seen in years. With youthful talent like Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho—all 21—and veteran Olympic captain Jon Obi Mikel ready to take the field in Moscow all eyes are on Nigeria to advance out of Group D and challenge the world for a chance at the cup.

The plan here is to outdo the teams previous international achievement, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal in men's football which is commemorated on the home kit with a badge recolored in the colors of the '96 gold medal-winning "Dream Team."

The home kit also pays subtle homage to Nigeria's '94 shirt— the first Nigerian team to qualify for the tournament—with its eagle wing-inspired black-and-white sleeve and green torso. But if the allusion to the pasty is subtle, the new supercharged patterns are anything but.

The look of the kit feels particularly in touch with what's going on in youth fashion both in Nigeria and the world and that's no accident. Much of the collection comes in bold print, both floral and Ankara-inspired chevrons, ideas that we've seen entering street wear collections and on the runway in recent years. That's because African and Nigerian style has become a big deal internationally of late. And not just in style, the country's huge cultural industries from Nollywood to Afrobeats have announced themselves on the world stage. This cultural ascendance is reflected in the design.


Courtesy of Nike

"With Nigeria, we wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation," notes Dan Farron, Nike Football Design Director. "We built this kit and collection based on the players' full identities." Along with other members of the Nike Football design group, Farron dug into learning more about Nigeria's players, "We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture."

In fact OkayAfrica has covered the team's love for music before—even dedicating an edition of the African in Your Earbuds mixtape to John Obi Mikel, Alex Iwobi & Kelechi Iheanacho's favorite songs to get hyped up before a game. When we asked the charismatic trio, they gave us list that included many of the huge Nigerian artists that we love, like Tekno, Wizkid, Yemi Alade and Nigerian-American rapper Wale and also, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, Celine Dion.

Nigerian culture has gone global partly through its infectious energy but also because of its vibrant diaspora populations that bring it with them wherever they land. Lagos-born Alex Iwobi whose goal in the 73rd minute to qualified Nigeria for this summer's tournament spent most of his life in London but still reps Naija to the fullest.

"I grew up in England, but Nigeria is my homeland," he says. "When I scored that goal, the players were dancing, the fans were playing trumpets and bringing drums…there was just so much passion and energy. It is always an honor to wear the white and green. To compete this summer is not just our dream, it is also the dream of our fans. Together, we all represent Naija."

This similar energy can be felt in Nigerian communities from Brooklyn to Peckham and even in China. Naija culture is truly global and no doubt the fans will embody the Naija spirit wherever they will be watching the games this summer.

If you're wondering, Nike isn't simply hopping on the Nigeria bandwagon. The apparel company has been sponsoring the Nigerian football since 2015, supplying kits to all nine of the Nigeria Football Federation teams at every level, including the men's and women's senior teams, men's and women's under-20 teams, men's and women's under-17 teams, men's and women's Olympic teams, and the men's beach football team.

So while the kit is available for purchase worldwide June 1, just know that you'll be competing with millions to get your own official shirts for the World Cup. If you are in New York, find the kit for sale exclusively at Nike's 21 Mercer store.

And please join OkayAfrica and Nike on June 2nd for Naija Worldwide as we celebrate Team Nigeria's journey to Russia in style.

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Listen to Adekunle Gold's New Album 'About 30'

Adekunle Gold's highly-anticipated sophomore album is here.

Adekunle Gold's much-anticipated sophomore album, About 30, has arrived.

The 14-track album boasts features from Seun Kuti, Flavor and British-Nigerian soul singer Jacob Banks, who appears on a remix to the popular lead single "Ire." The album sees the artist flexing immense versatility and range as he delivers emotional ballads, folk-Inspired cuts sung in Yoruba, and a few highlife-tinged summer jams.

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