Rotimi Fani-Kayode was born in 1955 in Lagos, Nigeria to a prominent Yoruba family. In 1966, his family moved to Brighton, England in order to escape the Nigerian Civil War. He went to numerous private schools for his secondary education. In 1976, Fani-Kayode moved to Washington where he studied Economy and to New York where he studied Photography. While in New York, he befriended Robert Mapplethorpe who he has claimed as an influence on his work. Upon his return to London in 1983, Fani-Kayode explored his own identities as a gay black male creating homoerotic imagery against the context of racism, homophobia, and anti-immigration. In his portraits, the body is used to creatively interpret the boundaries between spiritual and erotic fantasy and the conflicts between cultural and sexual difference. In 1987, Fani-Kayode cofounded Autograph ABP – a non-profit photographic collective and became their first chair. He was part of several exhibitions by the time of his death in 1989.
Antonio Ole is born in 1951 in Luanda, Angola. He learnt photography in his youth, and later moved to Los Angeles where he studied Cinema at Ucla. In 1975, Ole started his artistic career with a focus on painting, filmmaking, and photography. He early put an emphasis on the medium of photo-montage before turning to more or less neutral photography, which has since been his main claim to fame. He has created series of photos portraying Angolan in their living spaces or showing some themes metaphorically. For instance, the images of his project Salt show the various aspects of extracting and using the raw material salt. In his long-term project Walls, for which he took countless photos of facades and dwellings, the images of walls represent the decay, destruction, and war but also the resilience, determination, and hope. Ole often denies that his works carry any political significance, although they depict the misery of his homeland. Many of his works are part of private and public collections and have been exhibited worldwide.
Penny Siopis was born in 1953 in Vryburg, South Africa. After completing her master’s degree in Fine Art at Rhodes University, she pursued postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom. In 1980, Siopis started a series of baroque banquet paintings followed by a series of history paintings, five years later. She used random objects in her work, which commented on social, gender, and racial issues through referencing history, memory, and sexuality. Her earlier works were predominately in oil, pastel, and mixed media in a heavy textured and colourful style, and more recent works include photography, film, video, and installations. Siopis’ work is often visualised in existing objects that she sees as carriers of meaning beyond themselves. In Charmed Lives, exhibited in 1999 at New York’s Museum for African Art, they are arranged into sequences that speak of the fragile and unstable quality of memory, both personal and collective, asking probing questions about the nature of the archive and the relative truth of a historical record.
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