/ Exhibition place
Ajamu X is an internationally renowned Afro-British photographer and curator, born in 1963. He was confronted early on with the violence of the social gaze generated by his black and queer intersectionality. To quote Ajamu, whose name means “one who fights for what he believes in”, he dedicates his life “defending, documenting and celebrating the erotic, joy and pleasure that are part of the queer community”. His practice, centred on black and white photography, also encompasses video and writing. Indeed, Ajamu X describes himself as an “archival artist”. He is particularly interested in the powerful sensuality that emanates from black LGBTQ+ people who have come out. His artistic work is inextricably linked to his struggle and has led him to become the archive manager for The Black LGBT Archive Project, a major initiative on black LGBTQ+ heritage in the UK.
Approach and works on display
Boots (2021) Heels (1993) Fishnet and heels (2021)
From these three photographs emanate a sensual voluptuousness celebrating LGBTQ+ black masculinity. They challenge the notion of “struggle” as well as the paradigm of “deficit” that filters our readings of the community. But in this curatorial context, they also question the stereotypes of Afro-Caribbean “hyper-homophobia”. As Ajamu X says, “the Caribbean and Jamaica are not more homophobic than elsewhere. Homophobia exists everywhere and to say that a place, a country or a community is homophobic is deeply problematic.”
Summarizing a career dedicated to celebrating queer eroticism, joy and pleasure, the three selected photographs link Heels, from 1993, with two photographs from a more recent digital series produced almost 30 years later: Boots, and Fishnet and heels.