Gallery curator Iwona Blazwick profiles photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode, whose images of the black male body explored themes of sexuality, diaspora, racism and mortality.
Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery London, concludes the series exploring overlooked visual artists from the 20th century. Art history has been written from a white, western, male perspective. What if we could revise the canon?
Born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1955, Rotimi Fani-Kayode fled the Nigerian Civil War with his family and arrived as a refugee in the UK at the age of 11. He used the black male body in his photographs to explore themes of diaspora and belonging, racism, mortality and the tensions between his homosexuality and his Yoruba upbringing. Fani-Kayode suffered a fatal heart attack while recovering from an AIDS-related illness at just 34 years old, only six years into his career. He is one of a generation of gay artists who died prematurely in the 1980s and 1990s - how different might the art scene have been if these artists had lived?
Contributors include Robert Taylor (Photographer), Mark Sealy (director of Autograph ABP) and Femi Fani-Kayode (Politician and brother of Rotimi Fani-Kayode).
The series features artists selected by curators with varied perspectives - Hans Ulrich Obrist, Iwona Blazwick and Naomi Beckwith. Told broadly chronologically with inter-changing presenters, the series explores why these artists have been obscured and why some are now being reinstated into the 20th century artistic canon.
Presenter: Iwona Blazwick
Producer: Olivia Humphreys
Researcher: Jessie Lawson
Executive Producer: Joby Waldman
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4
Image: Untitled (Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil), Rotimi Fani-Kayode 1985, Courtesy Autograph ABP.
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