1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair on the French Art Market
As per every February, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair should have taken place in Marrakesh. Due to the current pandemic circumstances, the fair exceeds itself and presents a hybrid format – for the first time at Christie’s Paris, opening for VIPS from the 18th January, and for all public online (www.christies.com) from 20th to the 23rd January 2021.
Under strict safety measures, the fair that specialises in contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora will be opening its doors to a French audience.
“Following the postponement of the Marrakesh edition due to Covid regulations, we were formulating ideas for how we could still support our galleries and artists in this extremely challenging time. We realised we would have to move beyond our established model and take advantage of an opportunity offered to us by Christie’s Paris. So, this is a unique edition born out of the exceptional circumstances.” 
She offers space for 21 internationally renowned galleries, mainly from the African continent and Europe, including 68 artists by: Galleria Continua, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Luce Gallery, Nil Gallery, Gallery 1957, This Is Not A White Cube, Galerie MAGNIN-A et Galerie Lelong & Co, among others.
This time, the exhibition programme will have a strong international audience as it will be fully available online on the Christie’s website, allowing for a wider opportunity to sell and deliver artworks around the world.
“More than ever, we are dedicated to platforming contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora, challenging the misconceptions laid upon artists from the continent by Western-based cultural institutions and encouraging sustainable and engaged collecting practices by all. For now, we are just doing this on a smaller scale and more adaptable format.” 
1-54 wants to be a platform hosting plural narratives by demonstrating a diversity of identities. Visitors will have the opportunity to discover or rediscover the works of Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien at the 50 Golborne. Her work presents a cultural syncretism of her identity between France, Guadeloupe and Ivory Coast. She presents hybrid representations of rituals and cultures, within her mixed media installations from textile to wood and copper to clay. There will be a key contribution from the Casablanca-based Loft Art Gallery that will be presenting the eclectic photographer Mous Lamrabat, the documentary photographer M’hammed Kilito and the visual artist and photographer Joana Choumali.
The latter depicts the African world that surrounds her daily, through photography; during her travels or from local scenes in her hometown, Abidjan, in Ivory Coast where she currently lives. Her photographic explorations further come to life with the use of colourful sewing on the print itself. A sewing element that has become a key meditative process in the production of her work.
Not to be missed is the presentation by Nú Barreto at the Nathalie Obadia Gallery. The artist puts an accent on the continent with a focus on the denunciation of striking inequality, discrimination and oppressive systems that are deeply inscribed. He does so through drawings, paintings and video works – an urgent practicewhich offers a critical stance on current politics.
Finally, another important stop is to be made to the Cécile Fakhoury Gallery to see the presentation of visual artist Roméo Mivekannin who closely works with ethnographic photography and classical paintings from the 19th century – a key historical period in the articulation of a discourse on otherness in the dehumanising context of the slave trade and ravaging colonialism. His acrylic on bain d’élixir canvas strongly relate to two popular mediums capturing the black body, echoing very much with yesterday and today’s ongoing representations.
In parallel to the exhibitions, it is within the online Forum 1-54 that Morocco remains present. The programmeCrafting wor[l]ds: for a vernacular economy of art, is curated by Le 18, an “independent platform of creation, dissemination and cultural and artistic exchanges based in Marrakesh”  which will be broadcasted from their space during the fair and throughout February.
The discursive platform is fundamental in contextualising artistic, cultural, political and social discourses about the contemporary African scene, orchestrated with and by its main actors. The programme will be focusing on the theme of resonance, as they “propose to look at the ways in which new ecologies of cultural practices are emerging, drawing from vernacular principles and circular dynamics.” 
It will include long-term collaborators invited by Le 18 and their “proposal unfolds along seemingly diverging, and yet converging and intersecting lines, to explore some of the material and immaterial sites and infrastructures of cultural and economic production, reproduction and circulation, by establishing a protocol of diffused curatorship for each knot composing our canvas.” For this unique edition, the 1-54 temporarily settle in the French cultural landscape, echoing the fair AKAA (Also Known As Africa) and coinciding with the AFRICA 2020 season (now 2021), among others – initiatives that are most necessary for the visibility of African artistic and cultural discourses in France
  Quote taken from an email conversation with Touria El Glaoui, Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.
 This quote was taken from the Le 18 website, available at https://le18marrakech.com/about/
  This quote was taken from the fair’s website, available at https://www.1-54.com/paris/1-54-forum/