Redemption Song Statue in New Kingston, Jamaica – Uncommon Attraction
The Redemption Song statue stands as one of the most recognizable public art pieces in Jamaica, if not the entire Caribbean. It’s also, of course, one of the more controversial attractions found anywhere in our islands. Love it or hate it, the strength in its message is as impossible to ignore as its famously well-endowed characteristics.
Redemption Song Statue Facts + History
Located at the main entrance to Emancipation Park in the heart of New Kingston, Redemption Song stands 11 feet high. It weights over 3,000 pounds and required the efforts of 100+ people to complete.
The bronze sculpture was produced by noted Jamaican artist Laura Facey Cooper. Her concept was chosen from among 16 different designs submitted by other artists as part of a nationwide competition. Its aim: to select the design that best symbolizes emancipation and freedom. Redemption Song (the statue), which is named in honor of Bob Marley’s iconic Redemption Song (the song) – track 10 on Marley’s legendary Uprising album – won out in the end.
The statue debuted in July 2003, just in time for the one-year anniversary of Emancipation Park.
Powerful Symbol of Emancipation
The Redemption Song statue features two figures – a black man and a black woman, both completely nude. The pair, whose bodies face each other yet do not touch, stare up to the heavens. The slight expressions on their faces embody a sort of subdued joy. A sense of hopefulness is even apparent in the woman’s face, the corners of her mouth edging slightly toward a smile.
As with the iconic Neg Mawon statue in Haiti, Redemption Song symbolizes the triumph over slavery. The pair of formerly enslaved Afro-Jamaicans stand tall, proudly soaking in the promise of a bright future as free men and women.
To be sure, Redemption Song makes a powerful statement. To some, though, that statement could’ve/should’ve been made a bit more modestly.
Too Nude, Too Huge?
Indeed, the big controversy here is over nudity. Well, actually it’s more about what some see as overly exaggerated anatomic aspects of the piece. The man in particular, many claim, is especially too well-endowed.
Now, you might find this criticism rather ironic coming from Jamaica. I mean, the country is the birthplace daggering, easily among the most notoriously lewd dance expressions to come about in recent years. Sexually-charged dancehall lyrics have ruled the radio waves and Sound Systems here for ages. Before that, X-rated roots and dub reggae were very much a thing.
(See the Trojan Records X-Rated Box Set for a great and decidedly NSFW or family time compilation of classic hits.)
For her part, the artist is unfazed by the noise. As Cooper stated in a 2003 article published in The Guardian:
Both the male and female are very well-endowed in every possible way. It’s an important part of life and it’s a wonderful part of life. I’m a wife and I have kids and I enjoy that part of life.
Indeed, none but ourselves can free our minds…