1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s London edition goes ahead

Prince Gyasi, Crumple Zone, 2019. Courtesy Nil Gallery
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Updated 02 August 2020

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s London edition goes ahead

  • A scaled-down version of the event will be held at Somerset House in October

DUBAI: In a year that has been marked by cancelations, some good news has arrived for the art world. The popular 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will return to London for an eighth edition at its regular spot in Somerset House.

“The decision to go ahead with 1-54 London this coming October started first with the enthusiasm of our galleries to participate in a physical art fair followed by the announcement of the UK regulations regarding trade fairs going back to normal starting the 1st of October,” fair director and founder, Touria El Glaoui, told Arab News.

Born and raised in Morocco, after beginning a career in the banking industry and working as a wealth management consultant, she founded the annual 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in 2013 as a way of consolidating the rich art scenes on the African continent and generated by the African diaspora. The fair now has three annual editions in London, New York and Marrakech.

Ekene Maduka, After Hours, 2019. Courtesy Polartics

Alongside a scaled-down version of the fair presenting 20 international galleries — about half the amount of last year’s event — the fair will also show online in partnership with Christie’s.

The collaboration reveals Christie’s commitment to presenting contemporary African art to their global client base. Selected works from the fair will be exhibited in Christie’s King Street galleries throughout October.

“1-54 has become a definitive moment in London’s art calendar, and we are delighted and proud to partner with this fair,” said Dirk Boll, president, Christie’s Europe, Middle East, Russia and India, in a statement.

“Together we will provide a ground-breaking platform that allows participating galleries to showcase more artists and more artworks, thus continuing the fair’s ever-expanding capabilities for bringing the very best contemporary African art to an international audience,” he said.

Prince Gyasi, Humility, 2019. Courtesy Nil Gallery

The fair will once again be accompanied by 1-54 Forum, its extensive program of artists’ talks, film screenings and panel discussions that will be curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba from C& and take place both at Somerset House and online.

“We are very excited to go ahead with our 8th edition at Somerset House, but of course monitoring very closely all new changes that could impact our galleries and making sure we stay very flexible,” El Glaoui said.

Visitors will need to comply with 1-54’s health and safety measures implemented in collaboration with Somerset House and in compliance with UK regulations.

Benji Reid, Moon on a Cloud, 2019. Courtesy October Gallery

Strict sanitary measures will be in place to ensure everyone’s health and security, including a one-way circuit through the fair, time-slot ticketing and VIP access system, which visitors need to pre-book online. The fair will provide hand sanitizer, cleaning measures, hands-free systems and limited capacity control at all times.

In September the fair will announce full details of its safety measures and visitor experiences. A list of participating galleries will also be announced then.

Lebanese teen Nour Ardakani is global pop group Now United’s first Arab member

Updated 21 September 2020

Lebanese teen Nour Ardakani is global pop group Now United’s first Arab member

DUBAI: The search for global music group Now United’s newest member is finally over. Enter Nour Ardakani, the 18-year-old singer from Lebanon, who is set to become the band’s 16th member – and first Arab – after an extensive, months-long search for talent across the Middle East and North Africa.

Ardakani was hand-picked by Simon Fuller, the man who founded popular British girl band The Spice Girls and created “American Idol.”

“I think you are absolutely wonderful, and I think you would be perfect to join the group. And I would like to invite you to be the next member of Now United,” Fuller told the singer and dancer in a video call.

“Seriously, it’s me? You picked me?” asked Ardakani, to which Fuller replied: “You got it.”

The singer, who currently resides in Beirut with her family, joins fellow group for the band’s latest single “Feel It Now.”

Founded in 2017, the multinational music group announced in November last year that they were looking for a new member from the MENA region.


A post shared by Nour Ardakani (@noursmusicdiary) on

Out of thousands of hopefuls in the Middle East and North Africa, 13 were shortlisted and invited to participate in a virtual audition last week in front of Fuller. Eventually, it came down to Ardakani and a 15-year-old Emirati singer, Alya Al-Ali.

Fuller picked Ardakani after hearing her recording of Now United’s song “Habibi.”