Female portraiture features strongly at this year's edition. Artco Gallery is having a solo show of Marion Boehm's 'Thandi' (2017) series, which nearly sold out on the first day. The black-and-white faces of African women dressed in Victorian outfits of floral fabrics, velvet and lace adopt the classical poses of that era, the inclusion of books conveys their education. The fictional images betray the artist's desire to rewrite history. “Boehm wants to pay tribute to African women, often unrepresented in history and in portraiture, and overdressed them to give them a place in the society where they were often forgotten,” says gallery co-owner Jutta Melchers.
Nearby at Art Twenty One is Namsa Leuba’s 'Zulu Kids' (2014). In the staged images, young South African children wearing traditional clothes belonging to family members stand isolated on wooden logs. The series was made during an artist residency when Leuba, 34, worked with the Zulu communities in Kwala Zulu Natal and Soweto. After meeting local children through schools and villages, Leuba dressed them up and incorporated props. The idea of statuettes, however, is not rooted in Zulu culture but in West African animist beliefs.
Besides the African focus, a nice discovery is Sou Fujimoto's foray into architectural sculpture. At Galerie Philippe Gravier is the Japanese architect's 'Forest of Books, Elements of Architecture' (2016). The five pieces feature circular seating arrangements, on stainless steel rings, for an individual or several people, and spaces in between the vertical iron bars for bookcases. The project recalls how Fujimoto envisioned a “forest of books” concept for the Musashino Art University Museum and Library in Japan in 2010. Fujimoto explains that, for these new pieces, he reinterpreted the 19th-century ironwork of Art Nouveau balustrades, fusing this inspiration with soft curves recalling nature.