10 Questions with Touria El Glaoui

The Future Now Symposium is an exploration of 21st century culture through the mechanism of art, running 28 April – 1 May. This multidisciplinary four-day virtual event brings together key institutions, galleries, publications and artists for live-streamed discussions surrounding the most pressing issues from today’s creative industries. Through imaginative debates, panel discussions, career advice and cultural engagement, Future Now is a platform for idea generation.

Future Now finds a new home in an accessible online space for 2021. This year, our sessions are available to stream from the comfort of your home. Ahead of this year’s event, we ask our key speakers 10 questions.

Name, title and organisation?

Touria El Glaoui, Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair.

How would you describe your role?

1-54 have annual fairs in London (est. 2013), New York (est. 2015) and Marrakesh (est. 2018). I have daily meetings – speaking to artists, collectors, sponsors, cultural institutions and my team. We are currently working towards our New York Online fair, running from 17 – 23 May. 

The best part about what you do?

I have always loved meeting artists and gallerists – from my father’s artistic friends to creatives I have met throughout my career. Now I get to interact with people everyday!

Your most significant project to date?

Initiating 1-54 is my most significant ‘project’ to date. But it is bigger than a project. The fair has become a mainstay of contemporary African art markets across three continents. I have had so many amazing people advise and assist me along the way – transforming the fairs into collaborative projects that are constantly evolving.

Favourite piece of art?

It is always so difficult to dwindle down to one! I am excited for works featured in our upcoming online fair – including projects by Stephen Towns (De Buck Gallery), Mous Lamrabat (Loft Art Gallery) and Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga (Afriart Gallery).

The best in-person or virtual exhibition / event you’ve attended in the last year?

I have been fortunate enough to visit real life exhibitions in Morocco over the last few weeks. One of my favourites has been Visite at MCC Gallery, Marrakesh. The show brings together nine projects, developed between 2011 to today, by Amine El Gotaibi. The works respond to the his journey from Morocco to the Okavango Delta, Botswana – covering 30,000 km in 210 days.

Biggest take-away from 2020?!

I have been so proud to be part of such a resilient sector – particularly the contemporary African art community and galleries we work with. I have seen individuals and cultural spaces go from strength to strength, overcoming challenges to achieve their visions.

Lessons to take forward into 2021?

With adaptability and teamwork, challenges can become opportunities for learning, experimentation and growth.

What are you most looking forward to exploring in your session at Future Now?

Webinars and panels are always great spaces for exchange. I am really looking forward to reflecting on the art market after this intense year. I also cannot wait to hear the perspectives of the other speakers, all of whom do incredible work.

Other sessions you’re looking forward to attending?

Hassan Hajjaj in conversation. He is a good friend, and we have been fortunate enough to have his work at 1-54 on multiple occasions – including a solo show with Somerset House, Britain, at our 2017 London fair. I am also excited to tune into the discussions with Kriss Musya and Dr. Fahamu Pecou.

Touria El Glaoui will be speaking on The Business of Art: The Future of Collecting, Friday 30 April, 12:30 – 13:30 BST.

The Future Now Symposium runs 28 April – 1 May (Live), 2 – 31 May (On Demand). Tickets are available now, starting from £20.