LEAD PIC: Ajamu, Aura from the series Black Bodyscapes, 1992. Commissioned by Autograph. Courtesy the artist and Autograph, London. © Ajamu
Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms, which unapologetically celebrates black queer bodies and pleasure as activism, is currently showing at Autograph, London until September 2, 2023.
Ajamu is a photographic artist, scholar, archive curator and radical sex activist best known for his imagery that challenges dominant ideas around black masculinity, gender, sexuality, and representation of black LGBTQ+ people in the UK.
For more than 30 years, Ajamu has unapologetically celebrated black queer bodies, the erotic sense and pleasure as activism. He has been at the forefront of genderqueer photography, challenging dominant ideas around masculinity, gender, sexuality and representation of black LGBTQ+ people in the United Kingdom.
Ajamu’s evocative photographs present the lives and experiences of himself and those around him. From charged self-portraits to tender depictions of lovers, spirited images of friends to objects that his sitters use, The Patron Saint of Darkrooms foregrounds the community that has fostered an environment embracing the politics of pleasure. Since the 1980s, Ajamu has sought to use sensuality and desire as a creative practice, liberating representations of the black queer body.
Autograph has worked with Ajamu since the early 1990s, and a selection of commissioned works by the artist will be shown for the first time, including Black Bodyscapes (1994), focused on the private sexual realities of black gay men. These will be displayed alongside his acclaimed series Black Circus Master (1997), Ecce Homo (2023), Ajamu’s new portraits of black trans men, and more.
The gallery will be dominated by an imagined darkroom – coated in thick lines of latex – an allusion to the sense of anticipation in Ajamu’s process.
Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms Exhibition is curated by Mark Sealy in association with Bindi Vora.
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