Nothing to Lose XII

Photograph
1989 (made)
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rotimi Fani-Kayode was a founder member in 1988 of Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers in London. He experimented with colour photography of the black male nude, using symbols derived from his Nigerian Yoruba culture. Homoerotic desire and sexuality was central to his work as can be seen in Black Male / White Male (1988) and Bodies of Experience (1989). His vigorous use of colour and original use of symbolism seem to reflect both Yoruban traditions and the new possibilities of expression and political debate in London in the 1980s.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleBodies of Experience (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Dye destruction print
Brief Description
Photograph by Rotimi Fani-Kayode, 'Nothing to Lose XII', Ilfochrome dye-destruction print, Great Britain, 1989
Physical Description
A colour photograph depicting a black male nude, seated on the floor and leaning backwards, with grapes and a lemon covering his genitals.
Dimensions
  • Sheet length: 32.7cm
  • Sheet width: 26cm
Gallery Label
Gallery 100, 2016-17: Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–89) ‘Nothing to Lose XII’ From the series ‘Bodies of Experience’ 1989 In the 1980s, London artist Rotimi Fani-Kayode experimented with studies of the black male nude. In the images, he brought together motifs derived from his native Nigeria with those from European art. In this warm-hued image, Kayode combines a ritualistic pose with lemons and grapes, classical symbols of love, fertility and virility. Ilfochrome dye-destruction print Museum no. E.1084-1996
Credit line
Copyright Estate of Rotimi Fani-Kayode, courtesy Autograph ABP
Subjects depicted
Summary
Rotimi Fani-Kayode was a founder member in 1988 of Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers in London. He experimented with colour photography of the black male nude, using symbols derived from his Nigerian Yoruba culture. Homoerotic desire and sexuality was central to his work as can be seen in Black Male / White Male (1988) and Bodies of Experience (1989). His vigorous use of colour and original use of symbolism seem to reflect both Yoruban traditions and the new possibilities of expression and political debate in London in the 1980s.
Bibliographic References
  • Haworth-Booth, Mark. Photography: An Independent Art. London, 1997.plate 82
  • Stuart Hall, 2001Nothing is event driven in Rotimi's photography. The studio becomes a laboratory for exploring this border land between ritual eroticism and the sensuality of the male body. Rotimi looks at the body with an unashamedly gay gaze - different from Mapplethorpe; whose vision invades the subject, a form of voyeurism and a fetishising of the male black image. In Rotimi's work the body is transfigured by a combination of visual pleasure and sexual pleasure. He draws on the repertoires of Yoruba ritual, his modern experience in New York, surrealist influences and Mapplethorpe. Each of his images plays across these different registers, none of them is preserved, nothing is a pure African image. The human subject is lifted with a certain displacement. He is not interested in 'Who is this?'. The fruit and garland of flower images play across the masculine and the feminine, feminising the males without making them feminine. It is a wonderful play across sexual registers, cultural registers and different artistic languages. The politics of taking an approach to photography through the intersection of race and sex is tremendously powerful.
  • Robert Taylor, 2001At the time that I was asked to pose for Rotimi, I was still in 'respectable mode.' I was in a salaried job and had appearances to keep up. This was not really the sort of thing one was supposed to be doing, but there was something about the way he worked. I can't say I understood all his motives but I just felt comfortable. I wanted to go wherever he wanted to go and do whatever he wanted. We did some outrageous things. None of which I regret, though I just find it surprising that that's me. The possibility that you could make images very relevant to the way people wre and what our lives were like and what mattered, but they didn't have to be about the people in the pictures. It seems very elemental now, to be free to get on with something beyond the subject.
Other Number
XII - series number
Collection
Accession Number
E.1084-1996

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record createdJuly 24, 2003
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