‘…my body is and is not mine. Given over from the start to the world of others, bearing their imprint, formed within the crucible of social life, the body is only later, and with some uncertainty, that to which I lay claim as my own.’ (Butler, 2004:21)

This paper aims to look at and explore how the notion of performativity of Identity and its consequent freezing of that performance deconstructs essentialist aspects of bi- nary classifications of race and sexuality in the work of Rotimi Fani-Kayode. It also seeks to explore as to how this notion expands the concept of identity making it malleable, multi- ple and fantastical while transcending the superficial binaries of traditional/modern in the work of Samuel Fosso. This would be done through the medium of theoretical texts by Ju- dith Butler exploring the constructions of the essentialist notion of gender(Butler, 1990,1999,2004), Homi K Bhabha exploring the concepts of postcolonial and postmod- ern(1993,1994,1999), Stuart Hall and Mark Sealy who explore black identity (2001) and Kobena Mercer (1996) on Rotimi Fani-Kayode .

The first chapter introduces the work of Rotimi Fani Kayode and the world he lived in and worked. It explores his work in the context of the themes of race and sexuality that he worked with. The second chapter explores the work of Samuel Fosso through the notions of fantasy and self portraiture. The third chapter seeks to understand as to how normative discourses of identity are deconstructed or fissured through the methods of photographic practice with both their work. I would like to further open up the debate by looking at how images are constructed differently for both of them and yet they arrive at the same post constructed image readings, or new spaces that they have created for themselves.

Submitted as part of M A Photography at UCA Rochester in 2008.

Full paper here: