Rotimi Fani-Kayode

8 JUN - 7 SEP 2019
Germany: C/O Berlin


Rivington Place



past exhibition

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About the Loan

Autograph has loaned two photographs by Rotimi Fani-Kayode from our collection to the touring exhibition Food for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography. See them on display this summer at C/O Berlin. 

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.

Food for the Eyes presents the varied history of food in photography. Like the air we breathe or the water we drink, food is necessary for our survival. It awakens our senses and is part of private and public life in equal measure.Read More

Food and shared meals also play an important role in our rituals, religions, and festivals. Our beliefs, desires, and fantasies are reflected in what we choose to eat. Because food is part of our everyday life, it was and is a frequently depicted subject. And, like food itself, food photography can raise fundamental questions about a wide variety of societal themes: family, tradition, home life, wealth, poverty, gender, race, disgust, satisfaction, and consumption.

The exhibition includes Swiss artist duo Fischli and Weiss’s legendary Sausage Series, showing hot dogs, German sausages, parsley, and pickles arranged as props in a grotesquely absurd scene; fashion photographer Irving Penn’s similarly iconic frozen fruit and vegetable sculptures and his numerous artful still lifes; and British Magnum photographer Martin Parr’s images of bright fairy cakes, tea, and beans on toast, all instantly recognizable as typically “British.” The show also presents works by Cindy Sherman and Martha Rosler that disrupt the traditionally domestic role of the woman in the kitchen.

With works from fine art, fashion photography, journalistic stories, and advertisements, the exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of the depiction of food in photography through three themes. Still Life explores one of the most firmly established artistic traditions and asks the questions: How have photographers reinterpreted and subverted what was originally a genre of painting? What has changed—which new forms have developed over the course of time? Around the Table examines the ritual and sense of community that forms when food is shared, as well as the values and cultural identity they reflect. Playing with Food explores how the playful use of food can present new meanings and call us to both question and laugh at society’s traditions.

The Story of Food in Photography brings together a number of well-known artists, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Nan Goldin, Rinko Kawauchi, Laura Letinsky, Martin Parr, Irving Penn, Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Food for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography brings together a number of well-known artists, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Nan Goldin, Rinko Kawauchi, Laura Letinsky, Martin Parr, Irving Penn, Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Curated by Susan Bright and Denise Wolff the exhibition is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, in collaboration with C/O Berlin.

"On three counts I am an outsider: in terms of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation; and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for"

Rotimi Fani-Kayode

Visit the Exhibition

Food for the Eyes at C/O Berlin


Our book of Rotimi Fani-Kayode, on sale now for only £5


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.

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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.

Images, from top left: Image captions, from top left: 1) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Nothing to Lose I (Bodies of Experience), 1989. Courtesy Autograph, London. 2) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Nothing to Lose XII (Bodies of Experience), 1989. Courtesy Autograph, London. 3) Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Dan Mask, 1989./p>