1:54’s FORUM Programme Explores Contemporary Thought and Practice on Both Sides of the Sahara

  • Koyo Kouoh (Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar, Senegal) to curate FORUM 2015 in collaboration with Omar Berrada (Director, Dar al-Ma’mûn, Marrakech, Morocco)
  • The third edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London will welcome 33 exhibitors and five invited Special Projects, presenting more than 150 artists. 
  • FORUM, 1:54’s conversations series, will interrogate the invisible border between the ‘Maghreb’, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa and explore whether there is a cultural distinction between the regions.
  • Press Preview: 14 October, 8:30 Noon at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA. RSVP to 154@kallaway.com 
  • For press enquiries or interviews, please contact emma.collins@kallaway.com

Curator Koyo Kouoh and Omar Berrada will focus on artistic production in North Africa for the third edition of 1:54’s programme FORUM. For many, the Sahara edges the distinct regions between the Maghreb or North Africa, and everything below the desert. The Sahara is often imagined as a cultural blockade, rather than as a route of passage and this is the notion Kouoh takes as her point of departure to explore artistic production across the continent.

Over the course of four days, keynote lectures, artist talks, panel discussions, book launches and film screenings will be used to generate discussion around what, if anything, distinguishes cultural practice in these two regions. FORUM will use the Sahara as a conjectural boundary, exploring how ideas circulate and proliferate across this imposed demarcation. By focusing on North Africa’s subjectivity, the programme will provide an entry point into topics such as migration, globalisation and artistic historiography. The series of film screenings will also feed into this, establishing a dialogue between thought and moving image, sound and the visual arts.

FORUM will feature leading individuals from artistic, educational and curatorial spheres who will analyse and perhaps reshape the assumed differences between artists working in North Africa and those in the countries south of the desert.

Highlights from FORUM include:

  • The opening keynote, delivered by Jihan El-Tahri, director, writer, producer and artist, will look to the impact of imposed boundaries on cultural practice. El-Tahari will touch on globalisation and migration as an introduction to the later talk ‘The 55th State’.
  • Seven artist talks will provide firsthand insight to include: Algerian artist Massinissa Selmani, honoured with aSpecial Mention at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale; Tunisian artist Nidhal Chamekh, also selected for the 56th Venice Biennale; and South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere, who will also have his first UK solo show at Gasworks in London.
  • ‘The 55th State’: Participants Professor Gilbert Achcar (SOAS, University of London) and Dr Andrew Arsan (St John’s College, University of Cambridge) will look at the cultural impact of the Lebanese migration into Africa.
  • Osei Bonsu,independent curator and researcher will be in conversation with Meryem Sebti, Editor-in-Chief of the North African art magazine DIPTYK. The discussion will examine how publishers present cultural identity within the framework of the art market and surrounding critical discourse.
  • The Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah, exhibiting with Sabrina Amrani Gallery, will discuss sexuality and the body in African art with Koyo Kouoh.
  • The Whitechapel Gallery’s curator Omar Kholeif in conversation with Kader Attia and Kemang Wa Lehulere to respectively consider the contextual premises of the two artists’ practices–Wa Lehulere living and working in Johannesburg and Attia, living and working between Algiers and Berlin. 
  • As film becomes a more prevalent medium in African art, Dexter Wimberly, independent curator and Director of Strategic Planning at Independent Curators International discusses the practice of artist Theo Eshetu.

Alongside notable expansion and a wider geographical coverage, 1:54 is delighted to recommence Special Projectsthis October with contributions from Qubeka Bead Studio, Cape Town; Fondation Zinsou, Cotonou; BASMOCA, Jeddah; and Dialogues: MusicforArchitecture, London. Additionally, artist Hassan Hajjaj – Larache Studio, Marrakech will transform the 1:54 Lounge into a vibrant and immersive salon in a tribute to Moroccan interiors, fashion, and culture, edged with motifs of global commerce. 

The fair will present an opportunity to discover and appreciate contemporary African art in mediums including painting, sculpture, photography and installation with a cross-section of works from across the continent. Highlight artists of the fair include: Otobong Nkanga (In Situ / Fabienne Leclerc) Sammy Baloji (Axis Gallery) –designing an in-situ installation for the gallery at the fair, Ibrahim El Salahi (Vigo Gallery), Athi-Patra Ruga (In Situ / Fabienne Leclerc), Edson Chagas (APALAZZOGALLERY), Aboudia (Galerie Cecile Fakhoury & Jack Bell Gallery), Boris Nzebo (Jack Bell Gallery), Gonçalo Mabunda (Jack Bell Gallery), Ibrahim Mahama (APALAZZOGALLERY), Meschac Gaba (In Situ / Fabienne Leclerc), Romuald Hazoumè(October Gallery), Sokari Douglas Camp CBE (October Gallery), Virginia Chihota (Tiwani Contemporary)and many more.

Touria El Glaoui, Founding Director of 1:54 says:

1:54 continues to expand for its third edition at Somerset House and with it, FORUM similarly rises to the challenge. Focusing this year on North Africa and the perceived border between the so-called Maghreb and the countries south of the Sahara, , FORUM will move to consider experiences of migration and movement across the conceptual border of the Sahara which remains in the consciousness of many, a artistic, cultural and social divide. FORUM will hear from an array of artists working or living within North Africa and Southern Africa, providing all-important insight into their artistic practices in relation to this imposed demarcation.

1:54 FORUM Programme:

Thursday 15 October 2015

12:00 13:00 - FORUM Film

13:00 13:10 - Opening Remarks by Koyo Kouoh
Curator of FORUM Programme

13:15 14:30 - Keynote Address: Jihan El-Tahri
Delivered by Jihan El-Tahri, director, writer, producer and artist, with respondent Koyo Kouoh.

15:00 16:00 - Artist Talk: Katia Kameli
Omar Berrada writer, critic, and Co-Director of Dar al-Ma’mûn in Marrakech in conversation with artist Katia Kameli.

16:30 17:30 - Gallery Talk
Antonia Carver, Fair Director of Art Dubai will be in conversation with discussants Rose Issa, curator, writer, and exhibition producer and Selma Feriani, Director of Selma Feriani Gallery in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia.

Friday 16 October 2015

12:00 13:00 - FORUM Film

13:30 14:30 - Artist Talk: Massinissa Selmani
Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation in conversation with artist Massinissa Selmani.

15:00 16:00 - In Focus: DIPTYK
Osei Bonsu, independent curator and researcher will be in conversation with Meryem Sebti, Editor-in-Chief of DIPTYK Magazine. Founded in 2009, DIPTYK serves to provide a unique perspective on the contemporary art scene in North Africa. This discussion will consider how DIPTYK navigates the politics of artistic representation and cultural identity within the context of the publication, the art market and critical discourse.

16:30 17:45 - Discussion: The 55th State
Discussants Professor Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS, University of London and Dr Andrew Arsan, University Lecturer in Modern Middle Eastern History at St John’s College, University of Cambridge will work to consider Lebanese migration into Africa. The session will be moderated by Omar Berrada, writer, critic, and Co-Director of Dar al-Ma’mûn in Marrakech.

Saturday 17 October 2015

12:00 13:00 - FORUM Film

13:15 14:30 - Book Launch: Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the
Body in the Work of Six African Artists (2015)
Book launch and conversation with exhibition artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah and Body Talk’s curator Koyo Kouoh.

15:00 16:00 - Artist Talk: Richard Mudariki
Marc Stanes, Co-Founder of EBONY Curated, South Africa and Curator of Momart EG, Equatorial Guinea in conversation with artist Richard Mudariki.

16:00 17:30 - Artists Talk: Kemang Wa Lehulere and Kader Attia
Omar Kholeif, Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London, Visiting Curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester, and Senior Editor at Ibraaz in conversation with artists Kemang Wa Lehulere and Kader Attia.

Sunday 18 October 2015

12:00 13:00 - FORUM Film

13:30 14:30 - Keynote Address: Bassam El Baroni
Delivered by Bassam El Baroni, independent curator, researcher, and Curator of EVA International 2014, Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art.

15:00 16:00 - Artist Talk: Theo Eshetu
Dexter Wimberly, independent curator and Director of Strategic Planning at Independent Curators International in conversation with artist Theo Eshetu.

16:30 17:30 - Artist Talk: Nidhal Chamekh
Omar Berrada writer, critic, and Co-Director of Dar al-Ma’mûn in Marrakech in conversation with artist Nidhal Chamekh.

1:54 FORUM Access:

Entry to FORUM is included within 1:54 admission tickets and 1:54 VIP cards, however seat reservations must be made via the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Eventbrite page here: 154.eventbrite.com

For 2015, FORUM will take place in the Main Portico Room on the First Floor, South Wing, Somerset House.

List of 1:54 London 2015 exhibitors:

(S)itor, Paris 
Afronova, Johannesburg
Art Twenty One, Lagos
ARTLabAfrica, Nairobi
ARTCO Gallery, Aachen
Axis Gallery, New York
CIRCA Gallery, Johannesburg
Ed Cross Fine Art, London
Fondation Donwahi, Abidjan
Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, Abidjan
Galerie Jérôme Poggi, Paris
Galerie Lelong, Paris
Galerie Maïa Muller, Paris
Galerie MAM, Douala
GALLERY AOP, Johannesburg
Galleri Flach, Stockholm
GVCC, Casablanca
In Situ / Fabienne Leclerc, Paris
Jack Bell Gallery, London
Johans Borman Fine Art, Cape Town
KooVha Gallery, Harare
Magnin-A, Paris
Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle
October Gallery, London
Omenka Gallery, Lagos
Primo Marella Gallery, Milan
Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid
Selma Feriani Gallery, Sibi Bou Said
Tamar Golan Gallery, Luanda
Tiwani Contemporary, London
Vigo Gallery, London 


BASMOCA (Basma Al Sulaiman Museum of Contemporary Art), Jeddah
Dialogues: MusicforArchitecture, London
Fondation Zinsou, Cotonou
Hassan Hajjaj - Larrache Studio, Marrakech
Qubeka Bead Studio, Cape Town

About 1:54 London 2015:

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is the leading platform dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. Initiated by Touria El Glaoui in 2013, the third London edition will be designed by award-winning architectural and design studio RA Projects, led by architect Rashid Ali. It is 1:54’s biggest showcase yet with 33 exhibitors in total and five Special Projects, presenting over 150 African and African diasporan artists across the East, South and West Wings of Somerset House. Exhibitors for London 2015 hail from a multitude of geographies including South Africa, Morocco, Angola, Tunisia, Benin, Kenya, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the USA.

1:54 continues its dedication to supporting emergent organisations, initiatives, and non-profit art spaces through this section of the fair, whereby artists and art organisations are invited to formalise a presentation on their activity within a localised cultural ecology. The inclusion of additional voices and perspectives further consolidates the platform's integrity as a leading international fair uniquely dedicated to the promotion of African and African diasporic artworks. 

Media contacts:

Website: www.1-54.com 
Facebook: facebook.com/154ContemporaryAfricanArtFair
Twitter: @154artfair
Instagram: @154artfair


Margaux Huille
+44 7921 824688

Somerset House

Josephine Rodrigues or Francesca Hughes
+44 20 7845 4638

Further information: 

Opening Hours:
Thursday 15 October to Saturday 17 October: 12.00 –20.00
Sunday 18 October: 12.00 –18.00.
The 1:54 press preview will be on Wednesday 14 October, from 8.30 –Noon.
Please contact emma.collins@kallaway.com for press accreditation.

1:54 Tickets:

Tickets for 1:54 are available to purchase online via Eventbrite (booking fees apply): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/154-contemporary-african-art-fair-tickets-17896380556

Admission Types:

Day                                    £15.00     

Day (concession)              £10.00     

Four Day                            £30.00     

Day Ticket: Provides unlimited access to the fair on either Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Redeemable one day only.

Four-Day Ticket: Provides unlimited access to the fair on all of its public opening days. Retain your ticket to regain access.

Concession:Proof of status is required prior to entry to the fair. Concession admits Senior Citizens, Registered Disables and Students (a valid student ID must be presented).

About Touria El Glaoui Founding Director of 1:54

Born and raised in Morocco, Touria El Glaoui is the daughter of one of the most revered living Moroccan artists, Hassan El Glaoui. She has organised and co-curated significant exhibitions of her father's work including a major retrospective in Casablanca and Meetings in Marrakech, a joint exhibition with Winston Churchill's paintings hosted in Leighton House, London. She has a life-long passion for African art. 

El Glaoui holds an MBA in Strategic Management and International Business from Pace University, New York. She began her career in the banking industry as a wealth management consultant before moving to London in 2001 where she undertook various business development positions in the Telecom/IT industry. She has spent over five years working between London, various African countries and the Middle East in a business development capacity, and is a member of the Executive Committee of The Friends of Leighton House, London and a trustee of the Marrakech Biennial.

In October 2013, El Glaoui founded 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which takes place annually at Somerset House, London. In 2015, the third edition of 1:54 will be held across the 15–18October in London, while the first ‘1:54 Pop-Up’was launched over the 15–17 May in New York taking place at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

About Somerset House

A unique part of the London cultural scene, Somerset House is an historic building where surprising and original work comes to life.
From its 18th century origins, Somerset House has been a centre for debate and discussion –an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. Somerset House is today a key cultural destination in London in which to experience a broad range of artistic activity, engage with artists, designers and makers and be a part of a major creative forum –an environment that is relaxed, welcoming to all and inspirational to visit while providing a stimulating workplace for the cultural and creative industries.
Since its opening in 2000, Somerset House has built up a distinctive outdoor public programme including Skate, concerts, an open-air film season and a diverse range of temporary exhibitions throughout the site focusing on contemporary culture, with an extensive learning programme attached.
Somerset House now home to the biggest community of creative organisations in central London including the The Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art, King’s College London Cultural Institute and over 100 other creative businesses. They currently attract approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.