Contermporary African art is equally cool as Bjork!

Contemporary African art is equally cool as Bjork!


While I was in Amsterdam, I had an opportunity to attend the panel moderated by the founding director of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (154 Art Fair), Touria El Glaoui, followed by a brief chat with her, and I was luckily invited to check out the 154 Art Fair that has been happening over the weekend at Somerset House in London.

Citing from the website, this is what the London event is about.

1:54 London 2016 will showcase about 40 exhibitors, presenting over 130 African and African diasporan artists across the East, South and West Wings of Somerset House. 1:54 London 2016 will be accompanied by an educational and artistic programme, FORUM, curated by Koyo Kouoh and will include lectures, film screenings and panel discussions with international curators, artists and art professionals.

So as you can see in the description, it is not just a marketplace for galleries and art buyers. It is also about the discussions where intellectuals from multiple disciplines gather and talk about various roles African creators play in the global context. I attended a number of panel discussions, and I have been quite overwhelmed with the depth and width of the discussion, which I would never ever imagine to have in near future elsewhere especially in Japan.

While I have lots of perspectives and ideas to share, one thing that was reassuring to me was that African design (or art for that matter) is NOT about what you see, the outcome, or the objects. It is rather about what you talk about (dialogues and storytelling), the process that includes observations, choice of materials, making, and communicating, and the relationships between the originator and the audience.

This is really relevant to our business as I have even described in my previous blog post why we are trying to sell something before creating a product. As much as aesthetics are important in our brand, we really resist the idea of offering something “cute” because this does not give us sustainability. Targeting the market segment that gets drawn to cuteness has a short attention span. This means that we need to keep feeding them with new stuff at a fast pace. We need to make our best effort to educate the customers…

アムステルダム滞在中に、1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (154 Art Fair)の、創始者であるTouria El Glaouiと話す機会があり、ちょうど今週末、ロンドンのカルチャー発信スポット、サマセットハウス開催されている154 Art Fairに招待してもらったので、注目していたプラットフォームであったので、参加しています。


1:54 London 2016においては、サマセットハウスの東、南、西館を使って、40の出展者が130以上のアフリカ人、アフリカのディアスポラコミュニティーのアーティストを発信します。1:54 London 2016は、Koyo Kouoh(カメルーン系セネガル人アートディレクター)がディレクションした教育的かつ芸術的なプログラムであるFORUMも同時開催されます。FORUMでは、国際的なキュレーター、アーティスト、および関連の専門家を交えて、レクチャー、ショートムービーのスクリーニング、パネルディスカッションが行われます。