Arts + Culture
NIC Kay performing PUSHIT! at 1-54 NY 2018. Photo by Brittany Buongiorno, courtesy of SUTTON.

1-54 NY 2018 Was An Exploration of Oppression, Women's Empowerment and Identity

A recap of the fourth edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair entered its fourth year in New York with a lively buzz that brought curious spectators—and rightfully so. Over 21 galleries from all over the continent, including Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco and Ghana, displayed strong works of art that drew on themes of oppression, women's empowerment and identity.


Director and founder Touria El Glaoui recently told OkayAfrica that this edition was a continuation of her mission to have a physical presence on the African continent and create channels of exchange between Africa, Europe, and North America. With a wide spectrum of practitioners, patrons, institutions, and audiences—the fair is widely attended in London and was well received in Morocco earlier this year. 1-54 NY welcomed over 9,000 visitors, including museum directors, artists, curators, and collectors affiliated with over 50 museums and nonprofit institutions.

A crowd favorite, Phoebe Boswell, showcased one of the most beautiful displays titled, I Need to Believe the World is Beautiful. The 36-year-old London resident hails from Nairobi, Kenya and studied at the Slade School of Art and 2D Animation at Central Martins, London. Her large hand drawings hung neatly on the wall as she explained the message and inspiration of her work.

From Phoebe Boswell's installation at 1-54 NY. Photo by Katrina Sorrentino, courtesy of SUTTON.

"This particular project was inspired by work that I did two years ago which was called Mutumia, which means 'woman' or 'the one whose lips is sealed.' A friend sent a photo of women back home lying naked in front of men in protest of land ownership which they made developments with," Boswell says. "This sparked a revolution in me that made me research how women used their bodies to question authority, political power, or make a statement within society. With the help of my mother, books, and an army of women, I was able to embark on a journey on what it means to protest using the female body and I wanted to document those emotions which I later animated."

Along with Boswell, several artists exhibiting at the fair makes one question their knowledge about the struggles black people face all over the continent. SPOEK 1 by Ralph Ziman, who reclaimed a Casspir military vehicle to symbolize the oppression in the townships and urban areas of South Africa, was also one of them.

Ralph Ziman in front of SPOEK 1 at 1-54 NY. Photo by Katrina Sorrentino, courtesy of SUTTON.

The vehicle took two years to complete, as it's completely covered in panels of colorful glass beads, arrayed in traditional patterns made by artisans from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. "It was a time of horror because these big vehicles were driven by young men who paraded the streets of Joburg asking for IDs, which often led room for whatever terror they wanted to unleash that night if you were up past curfew," Ziman says, as he recollects his childhood during apartheid. "So, it's very symbolic of fear during that time."

Moreover, the fair was well attended with a variety of visitors from all over the world. The backyard was opened for a glass of rosé or two, which created a flux of people coming in and out of the space. The gallery's preview night followed with an afterparty down the street.

1-54 London returns to Somerset House this fall on October 4 through October 7.

Ezinne Mgbeahuruike is multi-media storyteller with an appreciation for pragmatic style and design. A fluent Igbo speaker, she is proud of her egusi and okra soup, enjoys walks during sunset, thrifting and yoga. To keep up with her, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Arts + Culture
Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, Untitled, 2019, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm, Courtesy October Gallery.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair NY Marks 5 Years Making Manhattan's Industria Its New Home

The leading international art fair dedicated to amplifying contemporary art from diverse African perspectives returns to New York this May—here's what you need to know.

This year's New York edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is around the corner as it continues to present contemporary art from diverse African perspectives—this time at a new home.

"Our fifth anniversary in New York comes at a moment of tremendous change and excitement for the fair," says Touria El Glaoui, 1-54's Founding Director, in a statement. "While we've enjoyed four years of incredible support from Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, the fair's move to the West Village responds to the desires of both our galleries and our visitors and will greatly expand the opportunities for audiences to discover the very best contemporary African art in the heart of Manhattan."

Taking place from May 3 to May 5 with a preview day on May 2, 1-54 will mark its fifth edition at Industria in Manhattan's West Village. Twenty-four galleries from Belgium, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Kenya, Martinique, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa,Turkey, the UK and the US are set to display work from over 65 artists. In keeping with the fair's mission to embrace a diverse and global mix of galleries that are dedicated to supporting and amplifying African artists from around the world, 12 new galleries are joining the fold with five solo exhibitions in tow.

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Art
Photo by Stephan Röhl via Wikimedia Commons.

Celebrated Contemporary African Art Curator Bisi Silva Has Passed Away

The independent curator and founder of Lagos' Centre for Contemporary Art lost her battle with cancer.

A tree has fallen in the contemporary African art world.

Bisi Silva, independent curator and founder of the Lagos-based Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), lost her battle with cancer Tuesday, PM News Nigeria reports.

"With a deep sense of loss, we regret to announce the passing of our Founder and Artistic Director of Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Olabisi Silva who passed away on Tuesday 12 February 2019," Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, the CCA's associate curator announced in a statement.

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News Brief
Shatta Wale in "Borjor"

Start Your Weekend Early With Shatta Wale's 'Borjor'

The Ghanaian star shares the new track and music video for "Borjor" on his birthday.

Shatta Wale is celebrating his birthday by dropping a new track that's sure to get you in party mode.

"Borjor" is an addictive new song built on a mid-tempo afro-fusion beat work and led by the Ghanaian dancehall heavyweight's vocals about the object of his desire.

The accompanying music video, directed by PKMI, follows Shatta Wale and his friends to a day of swimming and messing around in a pool and mansion.

Shatta Wale recently dropped the level-up anthem "Swizz Bank," he also hopped on the same riddim as Vybz Kartel's hit "Any Weather," produced by Shabdon Records.

Watch the new music video for Shatta Wale's "Borjor" below.

For all the best & latest Ghanaian music, follow our new GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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popular
Still from YouTube

Michael Kiwanuka Pays Homage to the Black Liberation Movements of the '60s In New Video 'Hero'

The artist's latest single references some of his personal heroes including Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Tupac Shakur and more.

British-Ugandan soul singer Michael Kiwanuka drops another single ahead of the release of his forthcoming album, KIWANUKA.

In "Hero" the singer pays homage to the Black Power and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s and 70s. The music video, directed by CC Wade references several Black leaders and some of the artist's personal heroes including Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King Jr., Sam Cooke, Tupac Shakur, Marvin Gaye and more. It also depicts the FBI's often illegal efforts to stop Black movements and other anti-establishment groups through its Counterintelligence Program, as noted in Rolling Stone.

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