Saturday, July 18, 2015

1:54 FORUM NY: Opening Remarks & Panel: Global Black Subjectivities

Just found this audio recording of the panel discussion organized by Koyo Kouoh (of Raw Material Company, Dakar) for 1:54 Forum, as part of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, 15-16 May 2015, at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NYC. If you have the time and interest on black subjectivities and contemporary art, you are welcome to listen to it on Youtube.

Listen on Youtube

And BTW, here is a note I wrote in May following my trip to 1:54 Art Fair:

 Last week, I was at the 1:54 Forum, the superb discussion program of the Contemporary African Art Fair established a couple of years ago by Touria El Glaoui. 1:54 (the 54, referring to the number of African Countries) is arguably the most important platform for selling contemporary African art to the world, through the agency of art galleries invested in this field. By placing the Forum, organized by curator Koyo Kouoh, who runs the RAW Material Company in Dakar, at the very center of the fair program, Touria and Koyo signal in unmistakable terms their awareness that the fair, apart from serving as a metamarket for African art, has to join intellectual and scholarly groundwork needed to further break the barriers that have long kept this field--especially the work of artists working inside the continent--from reaching certain attractive realms of the art world.
In coming to New York, the art and money capital of the United States, which unfortunately has not been a particularly fertile ground for contemporary African art (as big as its art world is, only the first rate Jack Shainman and, to a lesser extent, Bill Karg's longer-running Contemporary African Art Gallery, and Skoto Gallery have kept continental African artists visible in the city's art scene) the organizers of the art fair seem poised to shake things up as never before.The question in the end is whether stakeholders--galleries and collectors from New York and elsewhere--will recognize the fair's potential and therefore identify with it in the coming years. My hope though is that the organizers of 1-54 keep faith with the work of supporting intellectual debates, artists' presentations and conversations anchored around its Forum. But also, I would like to see the fair expand its horizon beyond serving as platform for African art galleries. It ought to grow, to become the place where galleries in the African and black diaspora--whether they are in Europe, the Americas, Asia--can identify with. That is to say, let it become the Pan-African contemporary art fair. 

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