BLOODFLOWERS, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, photography, and the 1980s

: Bourland (W.)

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328pp., illus., paperback, Durham, 2019


W. Ian Bourland on the photography of Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989). Born in Nigeria, Fani-Kayode moved between Washington, DC, New York, and London, where he produced the bulk of his photographs.

"Bourland brilliantly describes Fani-Kayode’s work in a period of global transition, and how it created and responded to profound social, cultural, and political change. In addition to his expert analysis of Fani-Kayode’s portraits, Bourland ties together the unique intersecting elements that made the art of this era incredibly original: surrealism, neo-Romanticism, Yoruban religion, the AIDS crisis, experimental film, loft culture, and house and punk music." Desirée Guerrero, HIV Plus

“Exhaustively researched and beautifully written, W. Ian Bourland's Bloodflowers is a breathtaking account of Rotimi Fani-Kayode's career that combines histories of Western, African, and Afro-diasporic art with a deep consideration of the worlds through which the artist moved. Bloodflowers rigorously elucidates the formal, social, and political force of Fani-Kayode's oeuvre; moreover, it offers a new history of photography and diaspora art that troubles standard accounts of late twentieth-century postmodernism, multiculturalism, and queer art.” Steven Nelson, University of California, Los Angeles

“A timely contribution to a growing body of scholarship celebrating the late Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Bloodflowers is a deeply insightful and long-overdue study dedicated to a pioneering - and often overlooked - figure in 1980s diasporic image-making. In this fitting tribute, W. Ian Bourland takes us on a mesmerizing journey, offering new positions and context regarding Fani-Kayode’s transgressive photographic oeuvre -critical reading for anyone interested in contemporary art, photography, race, Africanist art history, visual culture, and queer politics. Chapeau!” Renée Mussai, Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial, Archive & Research at Autograph ABP, London

W. Ian Bourland is Assistant Professor of Global Contemporary Art History at Georgetown University and editor of FAILE: works on wood.