Rotimi Fani-Kayode

Rage & Desire

Text by Rotimi Fani-Kayode and William J. Simmons 


34 pages

217 x 180 mm 

Published by Hales Gallery 


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Rage & Desire accompanied an exhibition of Rotimi Fani-Kayode’s work at Hales Project Room in 2018 and focuses on a selection of black-and-white photographs from the 1980s. These images present intimate looks at his subjects, primarily black men, whose postures and interactions with objects, which act as extensions of their bodies, play with the duality between the hidden and the visible. Some images allude to Yoruba culture through the presence of clothing, objects, and masks to examine the place of cultural practices seemingly available to the artist from a distance. Others incorporate objects like tubing, which speaks to the idea of the umbilical cord as a connection to nourishment, and scissors, which threaten the violence of detachment. Both frank in their explicit depictions and tender in their sensuous treatment of the naked body, Fani-Kayode’s photographs are infused with a powerful subjectivity that distinguishes them from the sensationalist images of many of his predecessors and contemporaries. They are the singular contribution of an artist determined to transgress the boundaries imposed both on his life and his art. In his seminal essay “Traces of Ecstasy,” Fani-Kayode expressed this by describing his desire to reappropriate the “exploitative mythologizing of Black virility” in the work of so much Western art and “to transform them ritualistically into images of our own creation,” filled with reciprocal desire.