CNN.com has published an article on Renegades — a landmark exhibition by South African photographer Frank Marshall, representing a decisive outcropping of a heavy metal subculture in Sub-Saharan Africa — which is currently on on display at the Rooke Gallery in Johannesburg. Read it at this location.
“Metal was seeded here by a classic rock band that started in the early 70s. Since then, it’s evolved and grown,” Marshall said.
“In the last 10 to 20 years, it’s come to be visually composed of what it looks like now — the guys dressed in leather. It started off with classic rock and later on more extreme forms of metals were introduced.”
In 60 portraits which combine precision and compositional elegance, Marshall tests notions that heavy metal music subculture is Western and Caucasian. His Renegades are members of a predominantly black generation of youth from Botswana who have claimed heavy metal as their own. Their sartorial choices channel the cover of MOTÖRHEAD‘s iconic album “Ace Of Spades”. Leather motorcycle jackets with cowboy fringe, studs, skull belt buckles and cowboy hats abound. Their noms de guerre — Morgue Boss, Maximum, Dead Demon Rider — echo the musical extremism heavy metal holds dear.
Frank Marshall‘s work reflects a deep appreciation for the community Renegades depicts and for his subjects who are redrawing the boundaries of a musical genre. He captures defiance, pride and esprit de corps in this fledgling scene. Many of his images are homoerotic, but not in a shallow way. Marshall finds magnetism in his subjects and a sense of commitment to the heavy metal mythology they are building.
Frank Marshall holds a B-Tech degree in photography from Tshwane University in Pretoria. He was chosen as one of the top ten finalists for the Sony World Photography Organization Student Competition based on work included in Renegades. He was the sole finalist from Africa.