1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Kiluanji Kia Henda wins the 2019 sculpture commission

After Ibrahim El Salahi in 2018, this year Kiluanji Kia Henda has been selected to unveil his monumental sculpture 'The Fortress' at Somerset House in London on October 3 2019.

Kiluanji Kia Henda, The Fortress - The Building Series IV. Courtesy Goodman Gallery.

Kiluanji Kia Henda, The Fortress - The Building Series IV. Courtesy Goodman Gallery.

The Kamel Lazaar Foundation (KLF) has entered into a multi-year sponsorship with the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s sculpture commission.

This unique monumental sculpture commission is focused on supporting the production, exhibition, and permanent display of a large-scale sculpture by an artist originally from the African continent. It offers the unique setting of Somerset House to unveil the work to a European audience before making the journey across the Mediterranean, to the ancient village of Utique in Tunisia.

Last year’s commission celebrated the great Arab modernist, Ibrahim El Salahi and presented his installation “Meditation Tree” at the Somerset House courtyard.

This year, after reviewing over 100 applications coming from 21 different African nationalities, the remarkable work by Kiluanji Kia Henda that has been selected to be unveiled at Somerset House in London on October 3 2019.

Kia Henda’s monumental sculpture, The Fortress, welds antithetical sites together by finding their common aesthetic, assimilating urban materials with ancient ruins to set the desert as the starting point. Like a desert mirage, the city is an illusion of what we need and what we strive for. In turn, the city and the fortresses which protect us become a perversion speculated upon for profit. In his “A City Called Mirage” series, Kiluanji Kia Henda comments on the aspirations of growth and development that Fortress Europe once meant. First conceived as an open flow of trade, people, and ideas—the European utopia evolved rapidly into an opaque and closed circuit that was accessible to the very few that sat on the right side of countless series of man-made borders. Kia Henda’s sculpture will be installed in London before making its journey to Tunisia—a country that has become the launchpad for aspiring migrants in search of the European mirage.

In continuing its collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the Kamel Lazaar Foundation welcomes new applications for the 2020 KLF x 1-54 Sculpture Commission at Somerset House, London. Any artists interested in submitting a proposal for a monumental sculpture are welcome to do so at sculpture@klf.tn.


Kiluanji Kia Henda lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon, practicing in the fields of photography, video, and performance. He is represented by Goodman Gallery in South Africa. Before this commission, The Fortress was shown in different formats in the deserts of Angola, Jordan, and the UAE.



1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair takes place from October 3–6, 2019

Somerset House
London WC2R 1LA
United Kingdom




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