Rethinking Masculinity: Men and Their Bodies
Rosalind Gill

Session 6 Ajamu: Man as Art

Intro Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5

For the photographer Ajamu, the male body is an artistic prop to be experimented on and played with, just like any other prop. He was brought up and came of age in a small town in the north of England where traditional notions of masculinity and sexuality were etched deeply into the local consciousness, and during his adolescence, as he was becoming aware of his sexuality, his preoccupation with the male body and its possibilities as a subject for photography and art was very much a clandestine affair.


Man wearing high heels. This was one of the images displayed at the "Typical Men" exhibition held at the University of Nottingham in association with a conference on men's bodies.
Ajamu makes it clear that he is mostly interested in experimenting with traditional notions of gender and constructions of masculinity.


Nowadays Ajamu is a successful photographer who has exhibited widely in the United Kingdom and Europe. He is most well-known for experimenting with erotic imagery of the black male body, self-portraits and for his juxtapositions of the male body with female accessories. His work sets out to experiment with and tease the boundaries of contemporary theoretical debates, specifically in relation to race, sexuality and representation.

His exhibition in the summer of 2001, "Typical Men", at the University of Nottingham, formed a focal point for a conference on the representation of the male body in art, photography, advertising, film, television and other visual forms.

In this he explains the ideas behind his particular representation of the male body, and considers the latter-day challenges to masculinity with specific reference to his work. He considers the variety of arenas in which masculinity and the male body is presented to the public and justifies his contribution to the world of masculine representations--a contribution that has been the subject of considerable controversy.