Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H , Case DELTA, Shelf 11

Steel Pulse, Ku Klux Klan

Photograph
1977 (photographed), 2010 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Dennis Morris moved to Britain from Jamaica in the early 1960s and began taking photographs at the age of eight. He had early success taking photographs of Bob Marley and the Wailers on their 1973 tour while still in his teens. Music continued to be a feature of Morris' work, as he went on to photograph British punk group The Sex Pistols and became Art Director of Island Records in the late 1970s.

While at Island Records, Morris photographed the roots reggae band Steel Pulse to publicise their debut single at the label titled 'Klu Klux Klan.' The song’s title, as well as the distinctive white hoods worn by the band in this photograph and during performances, played on the extreme white supremacist sect the Klu Klux Klan or KKK. Morris has since explained that through the photographs and their single, 'Steel Pulse wanted to show how the Klan were in our midst, in the community, disguised in different ways but present nevertheless.' However, the visual symbol was thought to be too controversial by Island Records and the photographs were never used.

The V&A acquired ten photographs by Dennis Morris as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleGrowing Up Black (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Gelatin silver print
Brief Description
Photograph by Dennis Morris, 'Steel Pulse, Ku Klux Klan', from the series Growing Up Black, gelatin silver print, London, 1977, printed 2010
Physical Description
Black and white photograph of a group of seven people taken against a black background. Five black men wearing sunglasses surround two figures wearing white pointed hoods that cover their faces with holes for the eyes and mouth.



Dimensions
  • Image size height: 45.5cm
  • Image size width: 68.5cm
  • Paper size height: 66.0cm
  • Paper size width: 83.8cm
  • Mount size height: 68.0cm
  • Mount size width: 92.0cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(signed and titled on the reverse)
Credit line
Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Object history
The V&A acquired this photograph as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.
Subjects depicted
Association
Summary
Dennis Morris moved to Britain from Jamaica in the early 1960s and began taking photographs at the age of eight. He had early success taking photographs of Bob Marley and the Wailers on their 1973 tour while still in his teens. Music continued to be a feature of Morris' work, as he went on to photograph British punk group The Sex Pistols and became Art Director of Island Records in the late 1970s.



While at Island Records, Morris photographed the roots reggae band Steel Pulse to publicise their debut single at the label titled 'Klu Klux Klan.' The song’s title, as well as the distinctive white hoods worn by the band in this photograph and during performances, played on the extreme white supremacist sect the Klu Klux Klan or KKK. Morris has since explained that through the photographs and their single, 'Steel Pulse wanted to show how the Klan were in our midst, in the community, disguised in different ways but present nevertheless.' However, the visual symbol was thought to be too controversial by Island Records and the photographs were never used.



The V&A acquired ten photographs by Dennis Morris as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Morris, D. Growing Up Black (London: Autograph ABP, 2012), illustrated
  • pp. 90-91Paris-Londres 1962-1989. Music Migrations. Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, 2019
Collection
Accession Number
E.1492-2010

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record createdFebruary 1, 2011
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