Arts + Culture

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Returns To London With 27 Galleries & 100+ Artists

The second edition of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair returns to the Somerset House in London from 16 to 19 October 2014.

Now onto its second year, 1:54 has quickly assumed the title of Europe's leading contemporary African art fair. After making its debut in 2013 at the Somerset House in London, the series returns doubled in size for its sophomore edition this October in conjunction with Frieze Week. In total 27 galleries are slated to showcase work from over 100 African artists, including Okayafrica favorites like the late Nigerian Hairstyles photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, South Africa's The Future White Women of Azania performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga, Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh, Moroccan pop artist Hassan Hajjaj, Lagos-based fashion photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo, the legendary Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibé, Senegalese fashion/fine arts photographer Omar Victor Diop, and Ivorian "photomaker" Paul Sika. 1:54 (which takes its name from the continent's 54 countries) was founded in October 2013 by the Moroccan-born/raised curator (and daughter of celebrated Moroccan artist Hassan El Glaoui) Touria El Glaoui, who had the following to say about this year's fair:

“The response to 1:54 has been incredible and it gives me great pleasure to increase the magnitude of the fair this year. With continued support from so many individuals and organisations, this year’s fair is set to be even more influential in encouraging the growth of contemporary African art in the international market place. 1:54 offers visitors the chance to experience and engage with contemporary art by both established African artists and with the rising talent from across the continent and the African Diaspora.

This year we are expanding the fair to feature a wider range of artists - each of the highest calibre - we aim to act as a catalyst for generating momentum in this exciting emerging market.”

In addition to a roster boasting 100+ artists, the fair is also set to feature a program of talks, panels and lectures, as well as a conversation series curated by Koyo Kouoh, the Cameroonian-born/Senegal-based director of Dakar's art/knowledge/society center RAW MATERIAL COMPANY. See a full program of events here. 1:54 returns to London's Somerset House 16-19 October 2014, from 10am-6pm. You can purchase your tickets here and follow 1:54 on facebook, twitter, and instagram for more info. See above for a glimpse of the art that will be on display this year.


Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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