Arts + Culture

First Look: A Sneak Peak Into This Year’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair returns today and runs through the weekend. You can’t miss this.

BROOKLYN, NY1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the leading transnational fair for contemporary African art in New York, begins today. In it’s third edition, 1:54 continues to dedicate the promotion of contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives.


Red Hook’s Pioneer Works will house the work of over 60 artists represented by 19 galleries hailing from Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Ghana, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. This year 1:54 also welcomes nine new galleries in hopes of broadening and diversifying the mix of unique art on view to the public further.

The preview last night was jam packed with contemporary African art enthusiasts who soaked up the opportunities to experience the works of renowned figures, including Malick Sidibé, Ibrahim El-Salahi and William Kentridge; as well as young African artists who are changing the game such as Cheikh Ndiaye, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Mohau Mokadiseng and Derrick Adams.

1:54 continues to be a beacon of collaboration. Attendees can enjoy furniture pieces Senegalese designer Ousmane Mbaye’s signature GRAPHIK collection in the lounge near gallery entrance.

The fair also presents the opportunity to engage in conversation through their FORUM program which includes artists talks and panel discussions including Sondra Perry, Tschabalala Self, Marcia Kure and a keynote lecture by Raél Jero Salley, professor in art history at the Maryland Institute College of Art. FORUM is curated by Koyo Kouoh, artistic director of RAW Material Company, Dakar.

In the image gallery below we give you a sneak peak of what you can experience this weekend.

[oka-gallery]

1:54 NY runs Friday, May 5, through Sunday, May 7. Find out more information, check out their website here. Keeping in mind the future of contemporary African art and to build the continent's collector base, Touria El Glaoui, founding director of 1:54, tells us that 1:54 heads to Marrakech, Morocco, in 2018—stay tuned for more soon.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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