I had a sense of unease as I approached the 1:54 fair.
Maïmouna Guerresi, Genitilla Al wilada, 2007. © Mariane Ibrahim
As I parked my bicycle all sorts of uncomfortable ideas were floating through my head about what I could and couldn’t say about African art, not least of which being the perception, dealt with by the fair’s title, that Africa is this big single thing, and not the 54 independent nations of which it’s comprised.
Wallen Mapondera, Echoes
So, putting cultural and intellectual imperialism to one side, 1:54 this year is great, and it is housed wonderfully by Somerset House in a series of rooms that give it a very nice feel in comparison to the booth format of all the other fairs.
Jebila Okongwu, Image courtesy the author
Omar Victor Diop, Malik Ambar
Hassan Hajjaj, Karima Stylin
Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, Untitled #7. ©Mariane Ibrahim
The two identifiable trends at this fair were a predominance of work made from found objects, and a proliferation of photographic work.
Leon Krige, Dark City End Street
El Anatsui, Fresh and fading memories pt IV
Mohamed Camara. Certains matins, ma cousine me fait des trucs que je ne comprends pas digital c-print, 48 x 59 cm (framed) 2007
Unsurprisingly, though, 1:54 was incredibly diverse, from Leon Krige’s vast and luscious prints of South Africa to Mohamed Camara’s lo-fi autodidactic captured images, to Maïmouna Guerresi’s surrealist take on things or the difference between Jebila Okongwu banana boxes and El Anatsui’s incredible handmade wall coverings. It was probably the most rewarding of all the fringe fairs taking place this week.
(Image at the top: Jean-Claude Moschetti, Zangbèto)