Spring 2009 - Rotimi Fani-Kayode
In partnership with the Du Bois Institute, Autograph ABP presents a retrospective exhibition of large-scale colour and black and white photographs from the estate of Rotimi Fani-Kayode, including archival works exhibited here for the first time.
Produced during the 1980s in a career spanning only six years, often in collaboration with his late partner Alex Hirst, Fani-Kayode’s photographic scenarios constitute a profound narrative of sexual and cultural difference, seminal in their exploration of complex notions of diaspora, identity, spirituality and the black male body as subject of desire.
The highly saturated and sexually charged colour tableaux from Fani-Kayode’s Bodies of Experience and Ecstatic Antibodies series are juxtaposed with the ambiguous subtlety and formal aesthetics of his black and white portfolio. Inspired by what Yoruba priests call ‘the technique of ecstasy’, his photographs fuse archetypal motifs from European and African cultures, tracing ancestral memories through a provocative symbolism to evoke a dialogue between past, present and future.
"On three counts I am an outsider: in matters of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation; and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for." - Rotimi Fani-Kayode.
Intensely personal and politically engaged, Kayode’s oeuvre is central to various critical discourses in British photography of the late twentieth-century. A founding member and first Chair of Autograph ABP, Fani-Kayode died in 1989. This exhibition marks twenty years since Fani-Kayode’s death, and is closely linked to the establishment of Autograph ABP’s Archive and Research Centre for Culturally Diverse Photography at Rivington Place, London.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in Nigeria in 1955 to a prominent Yoruba family who left Africa as refugees in 1966. He studied in the United States, before settling in the UK in 1983, where he lived and worked until his early death at the age of 34 on December 21, 1989.
Autograph ABP is a charity that works internationally to educate the public in photography, with a particular emphases on issues of cultural identity and human rights. They achieve this through formal and informal education programs, exhibitions, publishing and the creation of an archive of culturally diverse photography that is accessible to the public for research. For more information, please visit their website at: www.autograph-abp.co.uk