Lee "Scratch" Perry

 

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Click here to read ‘Inner Spatializing the Song’ from More Brilliant Than the Sun - Adventures in Sonic Fiction by Kodwo Eshun

 


 

MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD

Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019

 

Swiss Institute is pleased to present MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, the first ever institutional exhibition of artwork by Lee “Scratch” Perry. The show will feature a newly commissioned sculptural installation, as well as works produced in Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1990’s and in his Blue Ark studio in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, where he now lives.

Lee “Scratch” Perry is renowned for his pioneering role in the development of reggae and dub music, along with his spectacular presence as a self-proclaimed prophet donning mirror-jeweled hats and painted boots lined with bible pages. Ever since he hand-painted stripes onto newly-produced Heart of the Congos record covers in 1977, Perry’s artistic output has gradually developed into a multidisciplinary practice that expands over the rooms he inhabits, the clothes and accessories he wears, and the totemic structures he erects outside his homes.

The walls of the gallery at SI feature works and pictorial material from Perry’s studios, where a collection
of images has accumulated over time into a Byzantine patchwork of symbols and signs. In the Jamaican tradition of the yard show, the site-specific floor installation takes the form of a spiritual home ground that Perry has arranged ritualistically with rocks and stones gathered from the shores of the island of Manhattan and basins filled with water from the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Characteristic of Perry’s Gesamtkunstwerk style, figurines of the Black Madonna of the rural alpine Abbey of Einsiedeln are placed among laptop computers, printed out stacks of poetry, dug-up notebooks filled with spiritual graffiti, mirror balls and CDs, along with a plethora of other materials,

Perry’s mode of art making is process-oriented and informed by music production techniques such as re- mixing, re-versioning and modulating existing materials. At Swiss Institute, the installation includes signs that he has commissioned and painted over, collages made collaboratively, and fan art. It combines the objects that he relentlessly collects, such as microphone cables, international currency, shiny stickers with the face of Haile Selassie, stuffed animals, and octagonal mirrors, as well as video recordings of his daily life. Deeply influenced by a fusion of religious beliefs and practices, including the Yoruba tradition of Ettu, Obeah, Rastafarianism, and Christianity, Perry transforms these materials by burning, painting, layering, collaging, gluing, exposing to sun, wind and rain, and burying. In this way, Perry incorporates them into a never-complete artistic cosmos untethered from notions of linear space and time.

 

 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

 

 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, MIRROR MASTER FUTURES YARD, Swiss Institute, New York, 19 April - 2 June 2019
 

 


 

Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019

 

At Haus zur Liebe, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry delivers his very own rendition of a Christmas exhibition with a dissentious take on the customary ‘Weihnachtsausstellung’, the annual year-end conciliatory ritual of many European Kunsthallen and Kunstvereine.

Comprising new sculpture, collage-painting and free-word poetry rife with motifs that permeate Perry’s body of recorded work, the show chimes with Perry’s individual recasting of Christian cosmology arranged with the guidance of Obeah, the prevalent Caribbean folk magic said to derive from the Akan culture of West Africa, with a shamanic antipathy to perceived falsehoods of religious doctrine and those who misuse faith for nefarious ends.

One of the major forces in the development of reggae music and the related dub form, Perry is an iconic figure in the history of 20th century pop culture. While his myth- enshrouded musical legacy has led to his current expatriate life in rural Switzerland, nevertheless, Perry remains a complex and contradictory figure, not easy to unravel. Born in a remote Jamaican village in 1936, Perry’s formative years were defined by his mother’s practice of Ettu, a Yoruba tradition that centers on communication with ancestral spirits. In 1961 he moved to Kingston to pursue music after a divine voice directed him there.

Despite a lack of formal musical training, Perry has been active in every major change of musical style on the island, including nurturing Bob Marley’s career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, before the musician’s international stardom. In 1973, Perry opened the Black Ark recording studio at his home as a place of refuge for followers of Rastafari, the Afro- centric religion that venerates Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as a living incarnation of Christ. The related Black Art record label established by Perry referenced the “Black Arts” of Obeah that may have been employed in the music’s creation, especially the ‘unfinished’ futuristic dub music based on cut-and-mix sonic collages.

By 1977 at the peak of the Ark’s musical output, Perry started painting occult symbols on vinyl records planted in the studio grounds, plastering the studio walls with his handprints and ominous written proclamations. During the following years the site of the recording studio and its surroundings transformed into a synesthetic environment, developing a Byzantine shrine-like visuality, which corresponded with his virtuous production techni- que and musical motifs (mostly being made elsewhere since the space became dilapidated). Word, sound and image merged into one. As poetic afflatus became increasingly more important than audio recordings, Perry began painting all remaining surfaces with spiritual graffiti in his new guise as Pipecock Jackxon. Eschewing music production to concentrate on bricolage and art objects, Perry became a wandering nomad after setting fire to the Black Ark studio in 1983, re-surfacing in Switzerland in 1989, now his permanent home base.

Perry’s output has since taken the form of multi-layered clusters that continually shift and change. At his Swiss mountainside studio (dubbed the Blue Ark), the artist creates an ever-expanding network of paradisal animals, cartoon figures and saints using paint, mirrors, rocks, photographs, video and computer-transmitted word-association poems. The once sonically collaged echo space is now fully realized as a glue encrusted picture- pantheon of layers upon layers – dub in manifest form, echoing ad infinitum in a ceaseless quest to venerate the Almighty.

 

 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 

leescratchperry
Installation View, Haus zur Liebe, Schaffhausen, 8 December - 13 January 2019
 


 

Lee Scratch Perry
Upremacy
2019
Collage, marker and spray on canvas
140 x 170cm

 

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Lee Scratch Perry
God Dreams Orders
2018
Collage, acrylic and oilstick on canvas
90 X 75cm

 

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Lee Scratch Perry
cross
2018-2020
Wood, stuffed animal, plastic letters, rope, plastic figurine, box with various materials
105 x 250cm / Overall dimensions vary

 

leescratchperry
 

 


 

Lee Scratch Perry
Egypt Taken
2017
Collage, acrylic and marker on canvas
120 x 140cm

 

leescratchperry
 

 


 

Lee Scratch Perry
Untitled collage (Black Ark)
early 2000‘s
Colage on magazine page, framed
21 x 29cm

 

leescratchperry