8 February - 15 April
The Palitz Gallery
New York City, USA
A solo retrospective of the work of this seminal and highly influential figure in 1980s black British and African contemporary art. Although his career was cut short by his untimely death at the age of 34, Rotimi Fani-Kayode nonetheless remains an important influence in contemporary photography.
Curated by Mark Sealy and Renée Mussai of Autograph ABP, Light Work staff was given access to the negatives from which to create the reprints on display in Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955-1989) - all are ink on etching rag. The exhibition features a selection of his most important photographic works produced between 1985-1989, including large-scale color works and arresting black and white images.
The artist's portraits explore complex personal and politically engaged notions of desire, spirituality and cultural dislocation. They depict the black male body as a focal point both to interpret and probe the boundaries of spiritual and erotic fantasy, and of cultural and sexual difference. Ancestral rituals and a provocative, multi-layered symbolism fuse with archetypal motifs from European and African cultures and subcultures, inspired by what Yoruba priests call “the technique of ecstasy". Hence Fani-Kayode uses the medium of photography not only to question issues of sexuality and homoerotic desire, but also to address themes of diaspora and belonging, and the tensions between his homosexuality and his Yoruba upbringing. This exhibition runs during a period where punitive legislation in Nigeria has been enacted, just as in other countries in Africa, in recent years outlawing same-sex marriages and membership in gay rights organizations.