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‘We Need to Be in the Middle of Things’: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Moves to Manhattan for 2019

Industria in the West Village.

COURTESY INDUSTRIA

The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will move to a new home for its next New York edition in 2019. After four years at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, 1-54 will take up residence at Industria, a large photo studio and event space at 775 Washington Street in Manhattan’s West Village, two blocks south of the Whitney Museum.

Founded in London in 2013 and since expanded with versions in New York and Marrakech, Morocco, the fair looks to be bigger next year. Up from 21 exhibitors in 2018, 30 participating galleries are expected to present work by more than 70 artists from Africa and the diaspora during 1-54’s New York run from May 2 to May 5. The fair will continue its 1-54 Forum program for discussions and talks.

“We flirted with the idea for a couple years,” Touria El Glaoui, 1-54’s director, told ARTnews of the move. “Pioneer Works have been amazing partners, and we’re really sad to leave there. But the galleries told us of their desire to move closer to their audience and their collectors. They felt that we were considered a fringe fair, being in Brooklyn.”

Coinciding with the Frieze New York fair on Randall’s Island, 1-54—named for the notion of one continent with 54 countries and opening its next London edition on October 3—has grown in size and stature as interest in African art has swelled. “It was something we needed to do, and I think we found the right place,” El Glaoui said of Industria, an enterprise founded in 1991 and, as per its website, “designed for commercial shoots as well as a variety of exceptional events including exhibitions, conferences, fashion presentations, trade shows, and pop-ups.”

“The fact that we’re so close now to collectors in the center of town is helpful for the fair,” El Glaoui said. “I don’t want to isolate contemporary art from the continent by staying in Brooklyn. We need to be in the middle of things.”

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