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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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Zlatan "Zanku (Leg Work)" music video.

Is Zanku Set to Be the New Dance Craze of 2019?

Breaking down what could become the year's new dance craze.

With last week's release of the video for "Zanku (Leg Work)," Zlatan Ibile has consecrated himself as the originator of the newest dance craze in afropop.

The specific origin of the name 'zanku' is uncertain but the dance itself, says Ibile in this interview from December, is one he noticed from his visits to The Shrine in Lagos and refashioned into a trend.

The best zanku, so far, works best in beats combining repeated foot tapping or pounding, with hands held aloft, and finished with a flourish—a stylised thrusting of one foot as if to knock down a door. Variations include a faster footwork, mimicry of slicing and screwing hand motions and the brandshing of a white kerchief, all of which is done with vigour and attitude.

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WurlD. Image courtesy of the artist.

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WurlD, the blue-haired singer with a killer voice and deep songwriting, is a wonder. His music sits at the intersection between African vibes and Western delivery. 2018 has been a huge for him, with a deal with Universal Music ensuring that his art has received consistency in release.

Born Sadiq Onifade, the Afro-Fusion artist has had an inspiring journey, moving from the streets of Mushin in Lagos, to the US, from where much of his music has been conceived. The complete creative embrace of that cross-cultural influence has become his strongest point, with songs such as "Show You Off" and "Contagious" offering a unique angle to his sound.

"Moving to America for me gave me the opportunity to learn music and I fell in love with songwriting," WurlD says of his influence. "Atlanta (where I lived) is a creative hub when it comes to songwriting and producing, some of the biggest songs in the world were produced in Atlanta, people round the world go to Atlanta to go meet producers and songwriters in Atlanta. There, I fell in love with music and songwriting."

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France Still Doesn't Know How Racism Works and the Vilification of Nick Conrad Proves It

The French rapper is currently on trial for his music video "Hang White People," which depicts what life might be like if the racial tables were turned.

When the music video "Pendez les Blancs" ("Hang White people") by French rapper Nick Conrad was released, the backlash was intense. The video shows what life would be if black people had enslaved white people. "Hang white people… arm them and let them kill each other" Conrad raps. He is not the first artist to think about a life where Black people would dominate white people. Todric Hall's music video "Forbidden" and Malorie Blackman's novels "Noughts and Crosses" did it before. But in France, a country that still tries to stop Black people from organising as a community, Nick Conrad had to pay the price.

First, he received countless death threats and lost his job at a prestigious French hotel. Everyone, from French personalities to the government called him out. And then, two anti-racist and anti-semitism organizations, the LICRA and L'AGRIF sued him. His trial happened last week. French journalist Sihame Assbague was there to witness it, and what she reports is baffling.

To the prosecution, Conrad is encouraging his audience to kill white people. They believe that anti white racism or "reverse racism" is just as bad as any type of racism and that Conrad is using a "black supremacist language" with words like "queen" "king" when he mentions Africa. In their mind, once Black people stop trying to integrate and start organising themselves, it's just as bad as white people being racist. Ethnocentrism is dangerous.

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