Artist Talk: Ajamu X

06:30pm - 07:45pm, Thu 18 May 2023

Hear artist curator Ajamu X discuss activism, desire and visibility

Installation shot of Ajamu X display featuring four B&W images against a medium purple wall

Artist Talk: Ajamu X

6:30pm, Thu 18 May 2023

Hear artist curator Ajamu X discuss activism, desire and visibility

This event is part of our Past Programme

Artist and curator Ajamu X has never been known to shy away from the male form. With a series of works now on display as part of A Hard Man is Good to Find!join the artist for a new talk as we explore notions of masculinity, desire and visibility. Moderated by writer Mendez



Ajamu (1963, Huddersfield, UK) 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 United Kingdom.

He is the co-founder of rukus! Federation and the rukus! Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer + Archive and one of a few leading specialists on Black British LGBTQ+ history, heritage, and cultural memory in the UK. In 1997, Ajamu was the Autograph x Lightwork artist-in-residence in Syracuse, USA developing a series of self-portraits during his residency. He studied at the Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, The Netherlands, and is currently an PhD candidate at Royal College of Art, London. In 2022 Ajamu was canonised by The Trans Pennine Traveling Sisters as The Patron Saint of Darkrooms in his hometown Huddersfield and he received an honorary fellowship from the Royal photographic society.

Ajamu’s works have been shown in exhibitions in museums, galleries, and alternatives spaces across globally since the 1990s, his recent solo exhibitions include Archival Senoria at Cubitt Gallery, 2021. As well as included in several thematic group Very Private? at Charleston House, 2022; Fashioning Masculinities, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2022; Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery, 2019; Get Up, Stand Up Now, Somerset House, 2019; On our Backs: The Revolution Art of Queer Sex Work, Leslie Lohman Museum, 2019. Ajamu’s works are held in collections including Tate, London; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Autograph, London; Neuberger Museum of Art, New York amongst others. His second monograph AJAMU: ARCHIVE was published in 2021.

Mendez is a London-based Jamaican-British writer. They were born in 1982 in the Black Country, a historically industrial region in the English West Midlands. Raised within the Jehovah's Witness faith, Mendez left the organisation while still a teenager. ​

Upon receiving a manuscript of autobiographical fragments, Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove (UK) challenged Mendez to find the fiction in their story, and the resulting novel, Rainbow Milk, was published to rave reviews during the 2020 lockdown.

Rainbow Milk was named one of the Observer's Top Ten Best Debuts for 2020. It was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Polari Prize, in the Fiction Debut category of the British Book Awards, and for the LAMBDA Literary Award in Gay Fiction.

Mendez is currently adapting the novel for a TV series. ​ Mendez is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and has also written for British Vogue, The Face, Attitude, Esquire, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Foundation, The Guardian and the Brixton Review of Books. They are working on their second novel.


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