Scaled back 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair will go ahead in October—despite Frieze cancellation

Prince Gyasi's Humility (2019) Courtesy of Nil Gallery

As uncertainty continues to reign over what remains of the autumn art fair season, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair has announced that it will go ahead from 8 to 10 October in London, albeit in a smaller format. The decision comes despite the recent cancellation of Frieze London and Frieze Masters, normally the fulcrum around which 1:54 and other October Frieze Week satellite fairs revolve.

The 1:54 fair will run as planned at Somerset House but with fewer exhibitors—between 25 to 30 galleries—and occupying two rather than three wings of the building. Visitor numbers will also be restricted, with time-slot ticketing, a VIP access system (which can be pre-booked online) and a one-way system through the fair. Other now-familiar precautions such as hand sanitisers and extra cleaning measures will also be introduced.

Following in the footsteps of La Biennale Pariss collaboration with Christies, the fair will also partner with the auction house to mount 1-54 Online, a platform showing works from galleries, including some from galleries that are unable to participate in the physical event. Christies will also exhibit a few works from 1:54 galleries in its King Street saleroom throughout October. The fairs talks and film screenings programme 1:54 Forum, curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba from the magazine Contemporary And (C&), will take place both at Somerset House and online.

“It has been a difficult three months, trying to decide what to do—I think every possibility has come into my mind,” says Touria El Glaoui, the founding director of 1:54. Her team had been waiting on Friezes decision before deciding whether to go ahead, but after surveying galleries, she found there was enthusiasm to continue with the fair, particularly as Frieze is planning some parlour-style events around the city's galleries in lieu of the main event.

“We have to abide by Somerset Houses visitor number restrictions and so are restricted to aRead More – Source

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