We catch up with director of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Touria El Glaoui , whose New York edition launched this week.
Since the first edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair took place in London in 2013, a lot has happened with the fair. New York followed in 2014 as an additional venue, and Morocco became the first African country where the fair was held this year.
What remains the same is the focus on the 54 countries of the continent, to which the name refers, and the goal of promoting a global dialogue and exchange from an African perspective.
Touria El Glaoui, founder and director, uses the fourth edition of the New York Fair as an opportunity to draw an interim conclusion that sets 1-54 as a model in constant transformation.
Read more in our conversation below.
Ann Mbuti for OkayAfrica: 2018 has been the first year in which 1-54 had an edition in an African country. Why now?
Touria El Glaoui: Our goal from the very start was to have a physical presence on the African continent and create direct channels of exchange between Africa, Europe and North America. Having created a global platform and steadily strengthened our position in London and New York, we wanted to use this momentum to bring the focus back to the continent. Morocco has an extensive art and cultural history, and through its trade has been a link between the African continent and Europe. In some way by having the fair across continents we also serve as a connector. There are many reasons we chose to situate ourselves in Marrakech. One of them being that in the past year there have been more Africa-centered initiatives in Marrakech such as the opening of art institutions (MACAAL), and a significant growth in Morocco's contemporary art scene in general. We wanted to be a part of that development and introduce galleries and collectors to this budding market.