Ajamu, Malcom and Chris, 1992
Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms
Apr 28 – Sep 2, 2023
Autograph
London, 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 are shown for the first time, including Black Bodyscapes (1994), focused on the private sexual realities of black gay men. These are displayed alongside his acclaimed series Black Circus Master (1997), Ecce Homo (2023) Ajamu’s new portraits of black trans men, and more. The gallery is dominated by an imagined darkroom – coated in thick lines of latex – an allusion to the sense of anticipation in Ajamu’s process.

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