Naama Arad’s ‘Har Hazofim’ quotes the view from the window of the fictional Frank Lloyd Wright creation from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic ‘North by Northwest.’ A peach-toned silken curtain intervenes between our gaze and the Xerox copies pasted to the opposite wall on which landscapes can be seen. The paternalistic presidential visages of Mount Rushmore and the modernist architecture both see their material and ideological texture inverted in the most tender of feminist veilings. The title of the work refers to the mountain of the same name, and Israeli enclave in East Jerusalem that houses the Bezalel Academy of Art founded in 1906.
© Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Courtesy of Autograph ABP
‘My reality is not the same as that which is often presented to us in western photographs. As an African working in a western medium, I try to bring out the spiritual dimension in my pictures so that concepts of reality become ambiguous and are opened to reinterpretation. This requires what Yoruba priests and artists call a technique of ecstasy.’ R. F.-K.
In his photographs, Rotimi Fani-Kayode takes up ritual and visual traditions of the Nigerian Diaspora. But his homoerotic representations are consciously not traditionalist. They originate from contemporary debates of the 1980s around body art and staged photography. These sexualized appropriations of Yoruba motifs also evoke the fetishization of Nigerian masks by the canonized fathers of modern art. These used their own primitivist projections of looted African art at the beginning of the 20th century as a source of inspiration.