Cabaret Voltaire is delighted to present the first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland and Europe by Lee Scratch Perry (1936–2021).
You can find the complete exhibition text here.

Lee Scratch Perry profoundly influenced the development of Reggae, Ska, and Dub. His legendary studios in Kingston, Jamaica, and Einsiedeln, Switzerland, are globally renowned. However, Perry's influence extends far beyond music. His body of work includes visual art such as costumes, totemic sculptures, and assemblages of language, film, painting, as well as everyday objects like CDs, mirrors, stones, and religious and pop-cultural images. He influenced not only music greats like Bob Marley or Keith Richards but also artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Perry connects with the Dada heritage of Cabaret Voltaire through interdisciplinary work, sampling culture, and a DIY approach. Both playfully broke societal norms, created their own mythologies, and were committed to process and collaborations. In Switzerland, Perry and the Dada group found a tranquil island conducive to concentration and creative expression. The incubators were spaces that are now internationally renowned: a beer and wine tavern in Zurich (Cabaret Voltaire) and the Blue Ark Studio in a garage in the canton of Schwyz.

The exhibition focuses on Perry's artistic creations since the 1990s in Switzerland. These include studio walls from the Blue Ark Studio, sculptural assemblages, paintings, decorated equipment, and processed material from his extensive video archive. Some works and video pieces have been specifically secured for the exhibition, making Perry's unique personality and the design of his environment tangible and illustrating the complex relationships and influences between music, spirituality, and art. Visitors to Cabaret Voltaire can enter a time capsule that provides access to Perry's thirty-year creative phase in Switzerland for the first time. The exhibition also includes works resulting from collaborations that help understand the archive as a living network.

The exhibition was developed in collaboration with the Visual Estate of Lee Scratch Perry (led by Lorenzo Bernet and Valentina Ehnimb).

In addition to Lee Scratch Perry the exhibition will feature contributions by: Peter Harris, Invernomuto, David Katz, Lhaga Koondhor (House Of Intuitions) & Dave Marshal, Trinity Mesime Njume-Ebong (Mother Dubber), Sebastian Roldan, Maria Rodski, Volker Schaner, Scott Seine, and more.

Special thanks to: Mireille Perry and the Perry Family, Ulrike and Giuliano Bernet, Antoine Félix Bürcher, Thomas Julier, Albertine Kopp / Caribbean Art Initiative, Cabinet Gallery, London, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, suns.works, Zurich.

This exhibition is supported by:
Stadt Zürich
Kanton Zürich
Amt für Kultur des Kanton Schwyz
Bezirk Einsiedeln


Biography Lee Scratch Perry:

Lee Scratch Perry (1936–2021) was born in a remote Jamaican village and moved to Kingston in 1961 to pursue a music career guided by a divine voice. After founding the famous Black Ark Studios, he produced some of Bob Marley's most famous songs and became a pioneering figure in the development of Dub and Reggae music. Several years later, the studio burned down, and Perry led a nomadic life until eventually settling in Switzerland. Perry collaborated with artists such as Bob Marley & The Wailers, Junior Murvin, the Beastie Boys, and The Clash. He was awarded a Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2003.

In the late 1970s, Lee Scratch Perry began painting symbols and dub collages in his studio which gradually evolved into a multidisciplinary practice of total art. This encompassed his entire body and physical environment. Often imbued with spirituality, his visual work increasingly took the form of layered clusters that continuously evolved. With colour, mirrors, stones, photographs, videos, poems, and word collages, Perry created an expanding network of paradisiacal animals, cartoon characters, and saints – in an unceasing endeavour to worship the Almighty.

In recent years, Perry's work has been increasingly recognised in the art world. However, as early as the 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat cited the artistic power of Perry's oeuvre as an important source of inspiration for his own paintings. Works by Lee Scratch Perry have been exhibited, among others, at the NMAAHC / Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC (2023), at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf (2023), at the MACRO – Museum für zeitgenössische Kunst in Rome (2022), and at the 34th São Paulo Biennial (2021).

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