Somerset House, London, United Kingdom 04 Oct 2018 - 07 Oct 2018
￼Dennis Muraguri, Dexxy Ongata Line Sacco, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Circle Art Agency, -54 Contemporary African Art Fair will mark its sixth consecutive edition at Somerset House, London, 4 – 7 October 2018. The fair’s second Marrakech edition will take place in February 2019, and the fifth New York edition will take place in May 2019.
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair has announced details of 1-54 FORUM, the fair’s extensive talks programme curated for the first time by Ekow Eshun (writer, curator and former director of The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London). The programme will take place during the fair at Somerset House, 4 – 7 October 2018.
This year’s 1-54 FORUM will use the title ‘Freefall’ as a point of departure from which to explore black artistic practice as a strategy of innovation, resistance and liberation. The concept builds on thinking by a range of cultural makers around the idea of freefall as a way to interrogate notions of blackness: Toni Morrison’s references to flight and falling as a marker of freedom, self-knowledge and transcendence in her novels; artworks such as Steve McQueen’s Carib’s Leap (2002) and Dancing on Air (1989) by Emma Amos that allude to the black body in motion and in peril; and Arthur Jafa’s observation that black people ‘create culture in freefall, but we also create kinship in freefall.’
Over the course of four days 1-54 FORUM will bring together artists, curators and scholars to address key questions and topics: Can we understand black visual culture, not by seeking to define a black aesthetic, but by reconceptualising blackness as aesthetics? What is driving artists to use archival moving image and vintage video footage as source material to explore ideas of the identity and history of the African diaspora? Why is portraiture emerging as a political medium by which to assert black visibility? And what do recent survey shows of African photography reveal about our ideas of ‘Africanness’? Highlights include conversations with David A. Bailey MBE, Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom, Gaylene Gould, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Renée Mussai, Helen Jennings, Sonya Boyce among others, as well as artist talks by Athi-Patra Ruga, Larry Achiampong, Modupeola Fadugba, Hurvin Anderson and Rashaad Newsome. The full 1-54 FORUM programme is listed below.
Ekow Eshun, 1-54 FORUM Programme Curator: “FORUM creates a great moment to review some of the significant work being done in Africa and internationally. It has been exciting to curate such an important space for critical discernment about the issues, topics and fascinations that are concerning artists of African origin. It’s a brilliantly enjoyable and thought-provoking few days.”
1-54 will showcase 43 leading international galleries, 12 of them being welcomed to the London fair for the first time, as well as Special Projects including South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga’s first major solo UK exhibition and a site-specific commission by one of the most significant figures in African and Arab Modernism, Ibrahim El-Salahi.
THRUSDAY, 4 October
14:30 – 14:45INTRODUCTION
Ekow Eshun (1-54 FORUM Programme Curator)
15:00 – 16:00THE SCOPE AND PRACTICE OF ‘liquid blackness’: A READING OF KAHLIL JOSEPH’s WORK
Through Kahlil Joseph’s video work, Alessandra Raengo (Associate Professor at Georgia State University) discusses the founding and methods of her research group, liquid blackness, and how ‘liquidity’ can be used as a tool to investigate blackness as an aesthetic mode.
16:30 – 17:30 ARTIST TALK: ATHI-PATRA RUGA
Ekow Eshun (writer and 1-54 FORUM programme curator) in conversation with artist Athi-Patra Ruga on his practice and his first major solo exhibition in the UK currently on display at Somerset House, Of Gods, Rainbows and Omissions.
FRIDAY, 5 October
11:00 – 12:30 THE BIRTH OF A BLACK SURREALISM
An open forum with Leah Gordon (Artist, Founder of Ghetto Biennale), Axelle Liautaud (Director, le Centre d’art d’Haïti) , James Brett (Filmmaker, Founder of Museum of Everything // The Gallery of Everything), John Cussans (Artist, Writer, Researcher) and Giscard Bouchette (Curator and Critic).
13:00 – 14:00 BLACK MAGIC Rashaad Newsome (Artist) discusses his use of the diasporic tradition of improvisation as a tool to achieve abstraction and present the power of the human spirit to reinvent and transform itself.
14:30 – 16:00 IMAGES OF AFRICA
Discussion with Renée Mussai (Senior Curator and Head of Archive and Research at Autograph ABP), Lebohang Kganye (Artist), Marie-Ann Yemsi (Art Consultant and Curator) and Ruth Ossai (Photographer) moderated by Helen Jennings (Founder and Editorial Director of Nataal).
16:30 – 17:30 ARTIST TALK: LARRY ACHIAMPONG Harold Offeh (Artist) leads a conversation with Larry Achiampong (Multidisciplinary Artist) on Achiampong’s current immersive mixed-media installation at Somerset House.
SATURDAY, 6 October
11:00 – 12:00 ARTIST TALK: MODUPEOLA FADUGBA Katherine Finerty (Writer and Curator) leads a conversation with Artist Modupeola Fadugba on Fadugba’s current exhibition at Gallery 1957, Dreams from the Deep End.
12:30 – 14:00 THE FUGITIVE IMAGE
Understanding the drive to use archival moving image and vintage video footage with artists NT, Appau Jnr Boakye Yiadom and Onyeka Igwe, moderated by Gaylene Gould (Head of Cinema at the British Film Institute).
14:30 – 15:30 ON FABULOUSNESS – PORTRAITURE AS POLITICS
Madison Moore (Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University) explores how black, brown, queer and trans people turn to fabulous style as a political intervention that usescreativity to imagine a thrilling elsewhere.
16:00 – 17:30 PORTRAITURE AS POLITICS
David A. Bailey MBE (Artist and Curator) in conversation with artists Kimathi Donkor, Irvin Pascal and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami on the assertion of black visibility through portraiture.
18:00 – 18:30 PERFORMANCE: Harold Offeh, Lounging (2018) Harold Offeh will stage a performative re-enactment of a selection of album covers that depict black men in a repose or lounging position, a popular trope for black male singers in the 1980s.
SUNDAY, 7 October
13:30 – 14:30ARTIST TALK: HURVIN ANDERSON Sonia Boyce (Artist and Curator) leads a conversation with Hurvin Anderson (Artist) on Anderson’s most recent work.
15:00 – 17:00 READING GROUP: BLACK TOGETHERNESS AS LINGUA FRANCA
This event will be a dynamic reading of parts of Fatima El-Teyeb’s book European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Post National Europe by Amal Alhaag (Curator and Researcher), Barby Asante (Artist and Curator) and SORRYYOUFEELUNCOMFORTABLE (UK-Based Collective).