It may well be that settings for people-watching can get no better than an art fair in a grand Moroccan hotel. The milling in and out of La Mamounia Palace in Marrakech was a sight to see last weekend in the midst of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair: locals and travelers alike taking up their stations amid bountiful orange trees and swaying palms, with a lot of dashing fashion on display. Sounds and scents stirred the senses more, from clacking traffic noise drifting over top the hotel’s gated walls to a dizzying mix of floral aromas whirled together with notes of citrus and gasoline.
Inside, art from 17 galleries filled booths at the first edition of 1-54 in Africa, after previous incarnations of the fair dating back to 2013 in London and New York. “We wanted to do 1-54 since the beginning on the African continent—that was always our plan and ambition,” said Touria El Glaoui, the fair’s founding director.