Bloodflowers Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Photography, and the 1980s

W. Ian Bourland

In Bloodflowers W. Ian Bourland examines the photography of Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989), whose art is a touchstone for cultural debates surrounding questions of gender and queerness, race and diaspora, aesthetics and politics, and the enduring legacy of slavery and colonialism. Born in Nigeria, Fani-Kayode moved between artistic and cultural worlds in Washington, DC, New York, and London, where he produced the bulk of his provocative and often surrealist and homoerotic photographs of black men. Bourland situates Fani-Kayode’s work in a time of global transition and traces how it exemplified and responded to profound social, cultural, and political change. In addition to his formal analyses of Fani-Kayode’s portraiture, Bourland outlines the important influence that surrealism, neo-Romanticism, Yoruban religion, the AIDS crisis, experimental film, loft culture, and house and punk music had on Fani-Kayode’s work. In so doing, Bourland offers new perspectives on a pivotal artist whose brief career continues to resonate with deep aesthetic and social meaning.

Bourland cover


  • $26.95 paper, 978-1-4780-0089-1
  • $99.95 cloth, 978-1-4780-0068-6
  • $26.95 ebook
  • 336 pages
  • 92 illus., 6 x 9 in.

about the author

Ian Bourland is a critic and historian of global contemporary art at Georgetown University, with an emphasis on problems of colonialism, postcolonialism, and empire. As an alumnus of the Whitney Independent Study Program and contributor to a range of international publications, his work investigates the ways in which power is deployed, reified, and subverted through cultural practice—primarily photography, film, and new media and their intersections with sonic and popular forms.

Such research is reflected in courses that survey global modernism, contemporary art, and photography, as well as thematic seminars on globalization, the Black Atlantic, exile and migration, resistance movements and occupation, and a summer intensive program in South Africa that he cofounded in 2014. Before joining the Georgetown community, he taught at the University of Chicago, SAIC, and the University of Illinois, and was on faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art.