December 9th – 16th January 2017
A Rebel Prophet documents Marley’s rise as a freedom fighter and a musical poet through a series of photographs taken by Esther Anderson, Jamaican filmmaker, photographer and activist. This exhibition marks the first retrospective of Anderson’s photographs of Marley in London.
“My work is not pandering to those who know Bob Marley as a music icon. My photographs reveal Marley beyond the bounds of a musician, as the messenger who could reach out to a global audience, a poet of past and future.” E. Anderson
Up close and personal, Esther’s portraits reveal Marley’s mystical transition from a radical street poet, a rebel who was political – but resisting the fact that he was and ultimately the rise that would make him and the Wailers the global voice of the dispossessed. Marley practiced ‘natural politics’, not necessarily through means of dissent, but an innate sense of freedom from any strained campaign, pervading through the masses indiscriminately. Marley was an immensely political figure despite his protestations to the contrary. He was certainly regarded as such by those jockeying for power and influence in Jamaica.At this time, he had not evolved into the Rastafarian global star he would become in the late seventies. In 1973, when the pictures were shot, Marley, the Wailers and Reggae music were still unbeknown to the world. Although Marley did not seek fame during his meteoric career, the recognition he had received for his lyrical genius had grown steadily to this day. In the year 2000, Time magazine and the BBC named him “Artist of the Century.”
During the sixties and the seventies, Esther Anderson documented her own culture through music, dance and photography, while exploring her own representation as an actress in Hollywood and London with artists like Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando and Sammy Davis Jr. She later went behind the camera as a cinema pioneer, launching her unique kaleidoscopic visions. As a Frida Kahlo from Jamaica, Esther’s collaboration with Bob is the crystallisation of two young rebel souls into the totality of Art: love, music, photography, cinema, architecture, Ethiopianism and political resistance. They are both radical and uncompromising. Arguably, their best creation was an unwavering commitment to helping spread Reggae music and the Rastafarian message of peace and love to a global audience. Esther’s series of photographs represent a creative journey in which she is the narrator taking the viewer to the Caribbean islands, to Jamaica and into 56 Hope Road.
How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?
Redemption Song, Bob Marley