Photographs by Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Faisal Abdu'Allah can be seen in the exhibition MOED: What is Left Unseen - a partnership between the Centraal Museum and the Museum of Equality and Difference, established by the Gender Studies research group at Utrecht University. Autograph has loaned the works from our collection.
Two of Fani-Kayode's colour photographs will be on display, along with Faisal Abdu'Allah's images The Last Supper I and The Last Supper II.
What is Left Unseen is a broader perspective on the Museum's collection, asking: How can museums be a place where everyone feels at home, irrespective of education, gender and cultural background?
And what exactly does diversity entail, and how can we translate this into policy and practice? What does equality look like, for whom and why? And what does difference look like, for whom and why? The partnership with MOED gives Centraal Museum the opportunity to explore new perspectives, and to critically review their own collection and identity.
From the Museum's collection, pieces by Nola Hatterman, Steve McQueen, Ary Scheffer, Therese Schwartze and historical pieces by Nicolaas Beets are used to create a dialogue with a number of special loan pieces by Patricia Kaersenhout, Iris Kensmil, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Faisal Abdu’Allah, Jan van Bijlert and Samuel Aranda.
This dialogue leads to questions such as: How do we look at our own history? Can we place our own narratives in a different perspective? These and other questions are explicitly addressed in What is Left Unseen, and they will help the Museum to develop a more inclusive programme.
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.
Through his interdisciplinary practice encompassing photography, print-making, video, sculpture, drawings and installation, Dr Faisal Abdu’Allah asks probing questions in relation to history, myth, faith, masculinity, memory and violence, as well as race, representation and iconography.
Abdu’Allah is an Associate Professor of Art and Faculty Director of UW-Madison's Creative Arts Community, The Studio. A former IDA visiting Professor at Stanford University and The Henry John Drewal Visiting Professor of African & Diaspora Arts at UW-Madison, he graduated from the Royal College of Art, and completed his PhD in 2012 at the University of East London.
His work has been exhibited widely, including at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Gran Canaria (2012), Stanford Welton Gallery in Stanford (2010), National Portrait Gallery (2009), Whitechapel Gallery (2009), British Film Institute Gallery (2008), Serpentine Gallery (2006), and the Chisenhale Gallery (2003) in London, and Studio Museum Harlem (1997). His works are in the collections of Tate Britain (London), the V&A (London), the National Maritime Museum (London), the Chazen Museum (Madison), CAAM (Gran Canaria) and the British Arts Council.
Abdu’Allah has won numerous grants and awards, including the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors grant, the Mayor of London Award for Sustainability, the Flamin Production Development Award, the Romnes Faculty Award, the Decibel Visual Arts Award, and the first prize at Tallinn Print Triennial in Estonia. He has been Artist-in-Residence at the Serpentine Gallery (London), the Tate Modern (London), Gallery MOMO (Johannesburg) and Project Row House (Houston).
He serves on the Executive Board for the Southern Graphics Council International Nominations Committee. Abdu’Allah maintains studios in the USA and UK and is represented by Magnolia Editions, USA, and Autograph ABP, London.
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