Founded in London two years ago by Moroccan-born curator Touria El Glaoui, 1:54 takes its name from the 54 countries that make up the African continent. The fair features 60 artists presented by 16 galleries that all share a common theme — they either hail from the continent itself or, in some way, have been involved in the diaspora. This is the first iteration of the fair in New York City.
El Glaoui, the daughter of Moroccan painter Hassan El Glaoui, initially launched 1:54 because she felt that the exciting work she saw being made in Africa was not receiving a wide enough audience: ‘It was not a question of having a market or not, but rather, having access to it.’ International collectors, she notes, were often hesitant to travel to the continent for security reasons. ‘I saw an opportunity for a platform,’ she adds.
Although there is no common style or time denominator between the artists exhibited in the fair, El Glaoui believes that many of them are inspired by events quite different than those experienced by artists living in Europe or the United States. Visitors are given access to a totally unique worldview. ‘This is what is most exciting for us,’ she says. ‘The surprise for people who have no idea what they came to discover.’
Run by the New Art Dealer’s Alliance, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the support and advancement of new voices in contemporary art, NADA New York features booths not only by over 33 international galleries, but also by independent and artist-run spaces representing 37 cities in 15 different countries. This is what sets it apart, says director Heather Hubbs: ‘We have a lot of those voices in our show because we offer a platform that they can afford to be a part of.’
Along with booths by exhibitors, the fair will include NADA Presents, a program of events will be held on a newly designed stage. A discussion with artists included in the New Museum’s Triennial, as well as performances by emerging artists, are also part of the programming.
The reason why a visitor should come down to Basketball City, a venue on the far East side of Chinatown, is not only because its free to the public, Hubbs says: ‘It’s a great entry point for someone who’s interested in contemporary art. It’s high quality. It’s not like these galleries couldn’t be at another fair. They choose to be at NADA.’
Collective Design kicked off the fairs of New York Frieze week with the quiet elegance that characterises the high quality gatherings of this category, which have come to be a staple of must-attend destinations on the global art fair calendar. ‘We don’t go for the usual fair frenzy,’ said director Steven Learner of the opening day calm. He’s confident of sales as last year’s edition saw purchases from several museums investing in contemporary classics: ‘They know design is undervalued.’
For its third year, Collective, which runs through May 17, continues its roving nature — the fair has never been mounted in the same location twice — taking residence SoHo’s Skylight Clarkson Square, a sprawling industrial event space that provides ample room for the show offerings.
In addition to the 29 exhibitors, special sections include Collective Influence, a focus on a renowned designer, which this year showcases the playful innovations of Ingo Maurer and Collective Focus for which W editor in chief Stefano Tonchi assembled pieces that convey the special significance of Italian design.
Site specific interventions include a contemplative garden mounted by the Noguchi Museum, a dreamy slumber party of a napping station created by design firm Print All Over Me, and People’s Architecture Office’s Pop-Up Habitat composed of gold nylon panels. Located at the entrance, this last project will make visitors uncertain of their destination know they’ve reached the right place.
Main image at top: Paul Sika, Dandelia #1, 2012. Photographic print mounted on light box, edition of 2. 23.6 x 35.4 in. (60 x 90 cm.). Courtesy of Galerie Cecile Fakhoury
For more features, interviews and videos, see our Christie’s Daily homepage