After being hired in 2008 to photograph a South African heavy metal band for a one-night performance in Gaborone, student Frank Marshall decided to return to Botswana to create a series of portraits of Gaborone’s small but ardent community of heavy metal enthusiasts for his thesis at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria. The resulting series of sixty photographs was photographed between 2009 and 2010. Shot with two analogue cameras, a Hasselblad 500cm and a Hasselblad 500 EL/M on Fujichrome Provia 100F film, these black and white and color photographs highlight the distinctive character and aesthetics of the men and women involved in Gaborone’s heavy metal counter culture scene. The body of work was nominated for an international Sony World Photography Student Focus Competition, and has been repeatedly exhibited in international venues since.
Typically Marshall’s portraits depict leather clad cowboys and women in tight fitting jeans and black t-shirts isolated against dusty landscapes and city streets The men and women in this counterculture recall the sartorial splendor of Congo’s sapeurs, drawing upon the power of fashion and posture to define themselves and defy stereotypes of sub-Saharan African identity. Each photograph is titled with the name adopted by that individual within the competitive culture of Botswana’s “renegades.” Undertaker II stands tall in a cinder block alley populated by dogs. His hands are poised as if ready to draw a pistol in a duel, as he gazes at the camera from under his black leather hat.
Square Archival Giclee print of man with dogs in an alley. He wears metal studded clothing and boots and a black leather cowboy hat.
Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa's Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 4, 2017-ongoing