As the leading fair for contemporary African art, 1-54 launched in London in 2013 and was quickly followed by a second location in New York in 2015. Its third venue in Marrakech cements the fair’s quick growth and outreach, and will continue to welcome key galleries focused on artistic production from Africa and its diaspora in collaboration with local institutions.
Touria El Glaoui, founding director, noted it was critical to engage the fair’s ever-growing network with a base on the African continent, opting for Morocco given its vibrancy and internationally perceived dynamism, despite the temporary closure of the Marrakech Biennale due to lack of funds. Stepping in to cover bases until the biennial’s return in 2020, 1-54, named for the 54 countries in Africa, will feature 17 galleries and 60 international artists, there will also be a series of talks and events, including the aptly-timed reopening of the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL).
Due to open this February, the private not-for-profit museum on the outskirts of the city was initially opened in November 2016 during the United Nations climate change conference COP22. MACAAL president and founder Othman Lazraq teamed up with El Glaoui to ensure that come late February, Marrakech would be buzzing with artistic activity. Relaunching on 24 February with two exhibitions, MACAAL will host the Afrique in Visu-curated group photography exhibition entitled Africa Is No Island (until 24 August 2018) that will contextualise Moroccan art within the African diaspora through 40 artists including the likes of Sammy Baloji and Leila Alaoui.
The second show will be semi-permanent and will highlight the collection of Lazraq and his father, Alami, built over the last 40 years. Artists such as Joël Andrianomearisoa, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Abdoulaye Konaté, Chéri Samba and Moataz Nasr are included in the collection, which also hosts many Modernist works in what they consider a dialogue between established and emerging artists across a range of media.