Bedazzled Weaponry and Mermaids for Unity: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Opens in New York

ARTnews | Andy Battaglia

Outside the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York—the fourth edition of which opened today at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn—is a disquieting military artifact bedazzled with some 70 million brilliantly colored beads. Beneath them all is a Casspir “mine protected vehicle” of a kind that was prevalent in apartheid-era South Africa, where, during the late 1970s and early ’80s, the streets were prowled by armored vehicles that were widely despised and feared.

“These were notorious in the townships as weapons of mass oppression,” said Ralph Ziman, the South African artist who transformed the Casspir into a more stirring sight for the sake of an artwork titled SPOEK 1. With a large gun up top and ports for more firearms on the side, the Casspir in its native form was imposing—and virtually indestructible thanks to impervious materials and a mine-resistant bottom, the artist said…read more

Image: Ralph Ziman by SPOEK 1 at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. KATHERINE MCMAHON