Autograph has loaned two photographs by Rotimi Fani-Kayode from our collection to the touring exhibition Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography. See them on display this winter at The Photographers' Gallery, London.
Fani-Kayode's photographs constitute a profound narrative of sexual and cultural difference, seminal in their exploration of the politics of desire, diaspora, displacement, spirituality and the black male body.
Encompassing fine-art and vernacular photography, commercial and scientific images, photojournalism and fashion, the exhibition looks at the development of this form and the artistic, social and political contexts that have informed it.
Exploring the rich history of food photography through some of the leading figures and movements within the genre including: Nobuyoshi Araki, Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans and Weegee.
Food has always been a much-photographed and consumed subject, offering a test ground for artistic experimentation and a way for artists to hone their skills. But even the most representative images of food have rarely been straightforward or objective. Food as subject matter is rich in symbolic meaning and across the history of art, has operated as a vessel for artists to explore a particular emotion, viewpoint or theme and express a range of aspirations and social constructs. With the advent of social media, interest in food photography has become widespread with the taking and sharing of images becoming an integral part of the dining experience itself, used as instant signifiers of status and exacerbating a sense of belonging and difference.
Feast for the Eyes looks particularly at how food is represented and used in photographic practices and brings together a broad-range of artists all of whom harness the history and popularity of food photography to express wider themes. Crossing public and private realms the works on show evoke deep-seated questions and anxieties about issues such as wealth, poverty, consumption, appetite, tradition, gender, race, desire, pleasure, revulsion and domesticity.
Feast for the Eyes traces the history and effect of food in photography, simultaneously exploring our appetite for such images while celebrating the richness and artistic potential of one of the most popular, compulsive and ubiquitous of photographic genres.
Curated by Susan Bright and Denise Wolff the exhibition is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, in collaboration with C/O Berlin.
Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in Lagos, Nigeria to a prominent Yoruba family before moving to England following the 1966 outbreak of civil war in Nigeria. He later studied at Georgetown University and the Pratt Institute in the USA, before settling permanently in London in 1983 where he lived and worked until his early death from a short and unexpected illness on December 21 1989.
During his tragically brief six-year career, Fani-Kayode produced a complex body of photographic work, exploring themes of race, sexuality, spirituality, and the self. His masterfully staged and crafted portraits, sometimes quietly monochromatic and at other times rich in saturated color, stand as powerful, resolutely ambiguous, visual statements. A seminal figure in contemporary art photography, the year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death; at the core of Fani-Kayode’s practice is an important emphasis on the cultural politics of difference.
A prominent figure in the Black British art scene, Fani-Kayode was the founding member and first chairman of Autograph in 1988.
His photographs have been exhibited internationally since 1985, with numerous recent solo exhibitions in London, Boston, New York and Cape Town. In 2003, his work featured in the African Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy and in 2011 in ARS 11 at Kiasma-Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland.Fani-Kayode’s works are represented across the world in collections of numerous public institutions and private collectors including Tate, Guggenheim Museum, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, Walther Family Foundation, Harvard University’s Hutchins Centre, Kiasma-Museum of Contemporary Art and the collection of Yinka Shonibare MBE, amongst others. An episode of the recent BBC Radio 4 program on the History of Art was dedicated to his work in March 2018. Many of his photographs were created in collaboration with his late partner Alex Hirst and are collected in the posthumous 1996 publication Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Alex Hirst: Photographs. His work is represented by Autograph, London.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list