FORUM 2016—1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair‘s extensive talks programme curated by RAW Material Company—will explore the generative slippages between contemporary art, photography, fashion, design, architecture and urbanism. Through a variety of discursive forms including lectures, discussions and screenings, FORUM will demonstrate the influence and confluence of African perspectives in contemporary art and design with that of diverse aesthetics and material practices around the world.
As part of a wide appraisal of interdisciplinary material practice, FORUM will explore the proliferation of contemporary channels and modes of distribution, from the internet to the various self-organising strategies afforded by the digital. This aims at addressing how resources themselves are being repurposed and how artists and designers are responding to these shifts within “material” classifications.
The programme aims to address three key questions: how are material forms being radically reconfigured or redeployed by African and African diasporan practitioners; what kinds of narratives are emerging out of contemporary practices working between art and design; and how are interdisciplinary collaborations producing new modes of engagement with material culture, popular culture, history, politics and aesthetics?
FORUM Film is a related daily film programme screening artist works and documentaries. No booking is required. FORUM and FORUM Film will take place in the Screening Room in the South Wing. Access to FORUM is free with all 1:54 admission. Please note that as tickets are limited, free seat reservations should be made through 1:54’s website here.
Thursday, October 6
Opening remarks: Material propositions
Koyo Kouoh (Curator of FORUM and Artistic Director of RAW Material Company).
Ekow Eshun (cultural commentator and curator of the exhibition Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity) discusses themes of race, identity and style as radical personal politics in the work of artists such as Samuel Fosso, Malick Sidibé and Hassan Hajjaj. Followed by audience Q&A.
Serge Attukwei Clottey in conversation with Erin Jenoa Gilbert (curator, critic and cultural producer).
Artist talk: Rediscovering the ordinary
Michele Mathison (artist) in conversation with Liese Van Der Watt (critic). Referencing South African writer Njabulo Ndebele’s injunction to rediscover the power of the ordinary, this conversation will focus on Mathison’s sculptural practice which shows us how the ordinary is intimately connected to and revealing of wider political circuits of labour and cultivation, of power, globalisation and migrancy.
Friday, October 7
Lecture: African design: locating “It” and its constituents’
Aaron Kohn (Executive Director, Museum of African Design, Johannesburg) with comments from Mark Rappolt (Editor-in-Chief, ArtReview).
Artist talk: Without beginning or end
Joël Andrianomearisoa will discuss his practice and relationship to material with Huguette Malamba (Programme Specialist & Director of Diversity and Cultural Development, l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie). This conversation will be in French with English interpretation.
Princess Alia Al-Senussi (academic and patron) in conversation with Phoebe Boswell (artist) and Ifeanyi Oganwu (architect, designer and Director at Expand Design Ltd, London). This discussion will focus on Boswell and Oganwu’s collaborative project for the 1:54 Lounge and bookshop, and more broadly, their approach to interdisciplinary practice.
Saturday, October 8
Discussion: Why Design Matters
This discussion will consider how objects and post design ideals formulate contemporaneity of the pan African Aesthetic in a globalised world. Chaired by Azu Nwagbogu (Founding Director, African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos and LagosPhoto Festival) with Amelie Klein (Curator, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein) and artists Karo Akpokiere and Hassan Hajjaj.
Discussion: “Antidisciplinarity” in architecture
This discussion examines some of the sociopolitical, cultural, and urban conditions that underpin design and collaborative practice. Architecture in Africa is changing the way we look at the continent, and architects are more often than ever being asked to solve problems beyond their domain. Aaron Kohn (Executive Director, Museum of African Design, Johannesburg) in conversation with Kunlé Adeyemi (Founding Director, NLÉ, Amsterdam), Rashid Ali (Founding Director, RA Projects, London) and artist Driss Ouadahi. Part of this conversation will be in French with English interpretation.
Discussion: Africa in practice: an architectural dialogue
Aaron Kohn (Executive Director, Museum of African Design, Johannesburg) in conversation with Glenn DeRoche (Project Lead for Africa Projects, Adjaye Associates, London). DeRoche has worked on projects in North America, Europe, and Africa. Based in London, he now oversees projects across Africa, and has worked on opening an office in Accra. Global firms like Adjaye Associates are (re)turning to Africa in different capacities which means a new practice for many.
Sunday, October 9
Discussion: Malick Sidibé: The People’s Photographer, A Malian Legend
To coincide with Malick Sidibé’s first exhibition in the United Kingdom, Kerryn Greenberg (Curator, International Art at Tate Modern), André Magnin (Director of MAGNIN-A and author of the first monograph of Malick Sidibé) and Mark Sealy (Director of Autograph ABP) will discuss the artist’s work and legacy. Part of this conversation will be in French with English interpretation.
Book launch & screening: Nana Oforiatta Ayim: Agbako: Untold
The launch of ANO’s Limited Edition Books on Arts & Culture. A film and book on new museum and architectural models for a Ghanaian, and for wider African contexts. This edition is designed by young architect and artist Latifah Idriss, and supported by Gallery 1957.