To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House is presenting the large-scale critically acclaimed installation, O Barco/The Boat, by interdisciplinary artist Grada Kilomba, in the Somerset House courtyard from 29 September – 19 October 2022. The striking 32-metre-long installation is composed of 140 blocks, the configuration of which outlines the lower ‘hold’ of an historical European slave ship. Individually charred by the artist, the textured surfaces of several of the blocks are intricately inscribed with poems in 6 different languages. Directly addressing the history of European maritime expansion and colonisation, the piece invites the audience to consider forgotten stories and identities of those who were enslaved and suffered during this period. Alongside its sculptural elements, the artwork includes live performance, combining song, music, and dance, with music production by award-winning writer and musician Kalaf Epalanga. Designed and directed by the artist, the live ensemble brings new meaning to O Barco/The Boat, both acknowledging memories of the past and looking towards the future. Making its UK debut, Kilomba’s installation will be on view in the courtyard throughout 1-54, with free performances on the 13th and 14th October 2022.
Available online from 11 October and available to purchase at the fair’s bookshop from 13-16 October!
British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj has created a specially blended tea reflecting the diversity of the African continent. In consultation with Hajjaj’s mixologist, Love Letter comprises a selected blend of ingredients that exemplify the richness of Africa from the tall cacao trees of Ghana to the sweet-smelling orange blossoms of Tunisia, such as: rooibos, ginger, cocoa shells, fennel, cinnamon, fig pieces, carob, crushed coffee beans, moringa, pennyroyal, black pepper, orange blossom, and vanilla pieces. A sensorial experience all round, Love Letter is presented alongside a curated playlist with Worldwide FM, an award-winning radio station and platform for marginalised voices.
Listen to the playlist here.
Returning as a Bronze Sponsor for 1-54 London 2022, Nando’s will present work for sale by two Southern African artists: Adolf Tafadzwa Tega and Nkoali Nawa. Nando’s was founded in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987 and its restaurants house one of the largest publicly displayed bodies of contemporary Southern African art in the world, with over 8,000 pieces in the UK alone. Nando’s patronage of contemporary Southern African art, both enables career development opportunities for artists and the curation of Nando’s body of work. By allowing artists to focus full-time on their artistic careers with the potential to earn a regular income, Nando’s is making a difference in people’s lives while growing their body of high quality Southern African contemporary art. Spier Arts Trust is responsible for administering programmes that create career development opportunities for professional artists, thereby facilitating successful art careers.
Bikoka Art Project is a new initiative providing creative and professional opportunities for young people and women in the rural area of Lolodorf, Cameroon. Developed in 2021 by Cameroonian curator Christine Eyene, in dialogue with the local community, BAP ambitions to create cultural projects with a positive impact on society in a context where educational and professional opportunities after secondary school are limited.
BAP is located in the quiet and green area of Bikoka, a small village in Lolodorf. Its programme includes artists commissions, community workshops, exhibitions across themes ranging from history and traditional knowledge to contemporary culture. Exhibiting at 1-54 as part of the special project programme is Yvon Ngassam, the first commissioned artist by Bikoka Art Project, whose work focuses on memory and local history.
Currently in construction, Bikoka Art Residency is set to open in Spring 2023. A limited edition of prints by Ngassam are on offer at 1-54 to support the provision of community workshops.
Ronan Mckenzie’s HOME will take over an entire booth to present a new solo exhibition by London-based artist Alfie Kungu. Through practice and symbolism, this new body of works sees Kungu experimenting with techniques and concepts he associates with ‘relief painting’, where he deliberately emulates the effect of a marker pen bleeding through to the pages underneath. Accordingly, Kungu plays with themes of absorbency, with larger scenes becoming abstracted whilst keeping their own narratives, which remain subtle and ambiguous. Kungu weaves in dualities of the naïve and the childlike through the use of heavy-handed machinery in his practice, creating a dance between artist and tool. The exhibition highlights works that are therapeutic in connecting to the different sides of the artist’s being, including those that have been neglected or ignored, whilst serving as a form of comfort through which Kungu places himself within these scenes and spaces that embrace togetherness.
In collaboration with Code Green, the 1-54 Genesis Collector Pass provides exclusive access to Genesis NFT drops by artists who have shown regularly at 1-54 and are part of the fair’s ecosystem. Launching around 1-54’s 10th anniversary edition in London, pass holders will be able to access the Genesis NFT drops, both auctions and sales, and purchase both digital and physical artworks on the LiveARTx platform. Part of the proceeds from the sales will be channeled to support The Great Green Wall – an epic African-led climate project growing an 8000km wall of trees across Africa – with funds directed to community-driven projects and eco-businesses across the continent. Inna Modja, artist and founder of Code Green will also create a unique photobooth at the fair for visitors to have their photographs taken and get their first sustainable NFT minted and airdropped to them.
Curated by Pacheanne Anderson, Children of the Diaspora is an exhibition that brings together artists living and working in the UK within the context of the global contemporary African and Caribbean diaspora. The project examines current perspectives on Black British diaspora stories in the art market through a broad and inclusive curatorial lens and showcases an expansive and authentic look at what it means to be part of the wider diaspora as first- and second-generation artists and art professionals in Britain. Children of the Diaspora will present an array of mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, textile, film, and moving image, toward evoking critical conversations around the different experiences of Black Britishness in all its glory. All works on view are available for sale.
Curated by the people behind Papercup in Beirut, ‘1-54 Bookshop’ features a selection of books on art and design from Africa and the African diaspora. Papercup, an art bookshop and café located in Beirut, was founded in 2008 and quickly became one of the symbols of the revival of art and culture in the Lebanese capital, a cultural hub rooted in the local community with an international reach and influence across the region. In 2014, it was listed as one of the top ten art and design bookshops in the world by the Huffington Post and in 2017, 99U, Adobe’s design magazine, listed it as one of the top nine design bookshops around the world. The August 2020 Beirut explosion unfortunately destroyed the bookshop and its adjacent café. The owner and founder Rania Naufal has now moved to London with her son and is consulting in the bookselling and publishing field.
Chef, restaurateur, and artist Akwasi Brenya-Mensa will reimagine the 1-54 Lounge with his multi-sensory installation Chop Bar conceptualising a traditional roadside joint of the future. Calling to distant memories around authentic and communal African dining, guests are invited to pull up a seat and immerse themselves in this interactive and multi-functional space. Embellished with custom-made objects, furnishings, textiles, alongside a built-in space for food preparation and serving, guests are immersed in the artist’s interpretation of tomorrow’s African dining. Surrounding screens also pay homage to the lives of the women running these age-old institutions, imbued with rich tradition and heritage.