BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Touria El Glaoui, London, 2013. Photo: Chris Saunders
Touria El Glaoui, London, 2013. Photo: Chris Saunders

Tell us a little bit about the history of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

Since a successful first edition in London seven years ago we have also established editions in New York and Marrakech. Last year we held our inaugural edition in Marrakech and the second iteration in the city is this upcoming weekend (21-24 February). Our next edition in New York will be a special fifth year anniversary edition with us expanding to a new space - Industria, Manhattan.

How do you, as fair founding director, ensure that the event stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market?

It was always clear to me how important it was for the fair to be adaptable and reflective of the art scenes around us. As such we see our structure as something malleable, ensuring that it allows us to be flexible and responsive to the needs of our galleries and artists, providing a space they want to be a part of. This is vital for our sustainability as a fair.

Is there something in this year's program that you’re particularly looking forward to?

For our upcoming fair in Marrakech, I am more than excited for the special projects and rich public programme that has been a result of numerous collaborations with art spaces across the city. Alongside the 18 galleries at La Mamounia, there are exhibitions at Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, MACAAL and Comptoir des Mines Galerie, just to name a few.
For our edition in New York (2-5 May), it will be held at Industria for the first time which is allowing us to present even more galleries in New York than ever before. There will be 24 galleries joining us, presenting the work of over 65 international artists.
We’re also already in the process of organising London (3 - 6 October), and have exciting plans.

What do the artworks being presented at this year's 1-54 Marrakech reveal about current trends and market?

I prefer not to look at artworks as being a part of a trend or not, I find this often over-arching approach discourages visitors from understanding the diversity of work on show. This results in channel-vision that does not recognise that a work is a consequence of an artist’s multifarious personal, social, economic and political experiences that cannot be placed within the parameters of a single theme or trend. The fair in Marrakech, like in London and New York, always aims to present a plethora of creative voices from Africa and its diasporas to dislodge homogenising narratives.

What advice do you have for collectors attending 1-54 Marrakech this year?

My advice to every collector is always the same, it so important that you buy the work you have a strong affinity for and that this purchase is viewed as the start of a relationship with the gallery and artist. I find this to be the most fulfilling and mutually-beneficial approach to collecting work.

In addition to 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, what exhibition or event is on your must-see list?

Thinking about Marrakech, the 'must-see' on my list is a sound installation by Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh titled LOS-RAK, at DADA. Ogboh combines works from his Lagos Soundscapes alongside sound compositions assembled through recordings of the Marrakech Medina.

More Information on 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Insiders (49)

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums