Hard Rain: Headlong Collision with Nature
Believe it or not, Bob Dylan's music is alive and well even in the inhospitable Sahara desert. Ask British “environmental communicator” Mark Edwards who was lost on the edge of the desert in July 1969. Rescued by a Turareg nomad who lit up a fire with two sticks, he was stumped to see the former produce a cassette player from which Bob Dylan belted out his famous political song, “A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall”.
Edward is quoted as saying, “Bob Dylan's song of love and death is burning into me. As Dylan piles image upon image, I have the idea to illustrate each line of the lyric.” In the following years, the photographer travelled around the world on assignments that allowed him to take photographs that would mirror Dylan's powerful lyrics.
The outcome is the “Hard Rain: Headlong Collision with Nature” display which has been viewed by over 15 million people in the world at city centres, botanical gardens, universities and even the United Nations headquarters.
The Hard Rain exhibition was recently on in New Delhi. The display was a merger of disturbing images with Dylan's lyrics, among the few such endeavours in India.
A look back at the lyrics which Dylan's many fans are familiar with:
“….Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?
And what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand takers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.”
As the viewer goes around the exhibition, the images unfold, each coupled with an environmental message. One of the shocking photographs is that of a Bangladeshi refugee carrying his cholera-stricken wife across to safety in Calcutta during the Bangladesh war of 1971. The photographer also asserts that if climate change caused the sea level to rise by just one metre, it would render 20 million people homeless in Bangladesh and India alone.
Another photograph: an oiled seabird is the lucky survivor of an oil tank disaster off the coast of Brazil that polluted miles of coastline and killed thousands of seabirds.
“Each photograph has its own story to tell,” says Dr. Sudhanshu Sinha, head of British Council's Climate Change project in India and Sri Lanka, which presented the exhibition.
Dylan and Edwards couldn't have been better storytellers.