Do you know Rotimi ? Femi Fani-Kayode brother who died in a London self exile - News Update

Do you know Rotimi ? Femi Fani-Kayode brother who died in a London self exile - News Update

Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in April 1955, as the second child of a prominent Yoruba family (Chief Babaremilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode and Chief Mrs Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode) that moved to Brighton, England, in 1966, after the military coup and the ensuing civil war. Rotimi went to a number of British private schools for his secondary education, including Brighton College, Seabright College and Millfield, then moved to the USA in 1976. He read Fine Arts and Economics at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, for his BA, continued on for his MFA in Fine Arts & Photography at the Pratt Institute, New York City. While in New York, he became friendly with Robert Mapplethorpe, who he has claimed as an influence on his work.

Fani-Kayode returned to the UK in 1983. He died in a London hospital of a heart attack while recovering from an AIDS-related illness on 21 December 1989. At the time of his death, he was living in Brixton, London, with his life partner and collaborator Alex Hirst.

Career and legacy

According to Wikipedia Fani-Kayode and many others considered him to be an outsider and a depiction of diaspora. Fani-Kayode, however, believed that due to this depiction of himself, it helped shape his work as a photographer.In interviews, he spoke on his experience of being an outsider in terms of the African diaspora, but it's also important to note that it was forced migration. His exile from Nigeria at an early age affected his sense of wholeness. He experienced feeling like he had "very little to lose." But his identity was then shaped from his sense of otherness and it was celebrated. In his work, Fani-Kayode's subjects are specifically black men, but he almost always asserts himself as the black man in most of his work, which can be interpreted as a performative and visual representation of his personal history. Using the body as the centralised point in his photography, he was able to explore the relationship between erotic fantasy and his ancestral spiritual values. His complex experience of dislocation, fragmentation, rejection, and separation all shaped his work

According to report from bjb-online Rotimi Fani-Kayode was one of the first Africans to portray his gay identity through photography, once writing: “I make my pictures homosexual on purpose”. Yet his photos are not a gratuitous response to the establishment; they are layered and contradictory, emotionally raw and breathtakingly physical

“Rotimi opened up a new space of critical enquiry around the representational politics of the black body, and the exploration of cultural and sexual difference through staged photography,” says RenĂ©e Mussai, who exhibited a show of Rotimi’s work at the Tiwani gallery in Fitzrovia, London, last year. “His work is as seductive, transgressive and relevant now, as it was when he passed away,” says Mussai, who is curator and head of archive at Autograph ABP in east London, the organisation that Fani-Kayode co-founded a year before his death.

This complex aesthetic comes from an identity defined by loss and a sense of being an outsider, she says, pointing to a quote by Steven Nelson in Transcendence in the Photographs of Rotimi Fani-Kayode: “To experience exile – be it cultural, familiar, or sexual – is often to experience an existence that is constituted by a loss of wholeness, one defined by its fragmentary nature. To experience exile is to retain, in the words of Thomas Paved, ‘a faith in the homecoming’.”


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