BRITAIN; BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH PHOTO EXHIBITION
37a, National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin's Place, London
until September 10 2006
by Cardinal Cox
Dope on Pnuk part 12
I've put the room number on the
header to this piece, because it is a bit difficult to find, and
one member of staff directed me to the wrong room. Which is a
shame, as this is an exhibition of photographs chosen by the poet
and writer Benjamin Zephaniah. The room also has six of his poems
on the walls so you can see the connections between his work and
The small selection is divided
into four themed sections and the first is about British Moslems.
These include a photograph of Choudhry Qasim Ali, who first
visited Britain in 1921, jumped ship here in 1942 and has now
lived for over fifty years in Newcastle. Other pictures are
examples of those sent home in the 1950s and '60s to show that
the emigree has become a success. Amongst the more famous Moslems
are Yusuf Islam and the architect Zaha Hadid.
The second section is drawn from
the 'Face Me' project to highlight issues regarding facial
disfigurements, either slight or significant.
'Punky Reggae Party (from the song
by Bob Marley)' is the title of the third section and includes
portraits of Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Ijahman Levi, Aswad, Courtney
Pine, Debbie Harry and Siouxsie & The Banshees (circa 1978).
Benjamin Zephaniah came to the fore through the dub/punk poetry
scene of the early '80s, so this shows some of his own roots.
The fourth section is a real
'Ahhhhhh' selection of photographs of animals like lambs, kids,
an orangutan, etc. Benjamin is a committed vegan so it is no
surprise that he gives animals equal prominence to people.
This is a small but interesting
exhibition and if you get a chance, go see it. On Thursday
September 7, at 7pm, Benjamin Zephaniah will be giving a free
talk about it. I'd recommend you ring if you need to get tickets
though. 020 7306 0055.
© All work copyright of Cardinal Cox.