“It was my wife who made me pick up a camera a few years back but never in my wildest dreams did I envision that one day I’d capture such a pivotal moment in our history. I hadn’t met Darcy, the subject here, before taking this picture but I was immediately struck by her – there’s an undeniable purpose and passion in her expression. In one split second, I captured a young woman fighting for her future, holding up what is a seemingly simple question, a question I hope the next generation won’t need to ask. It’s true that an image can say a thousand words, and it’s an incredible honour that my photograph has been perceived by many as the voice of the moment.” It is with great pride that I offer this work, my first ever print, to be sold at Sotheby’s in order to raise much needed funds for Anthony Nolan. This will help diversify the donor register which will, in turn, save lives.” Misan Harriman
Hailed ‘the most talked about photographer of our times’ by the Evening Standard, and ‘the voice that was missing’ by British Vogue’s Edward Enninful, Misan Harriman has risen to stratospheric heights in 2020. The first Black male photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue in its 104- year history, Harriman’s many accolades include the cover of the British magazine’s September 2020 issue, featuring Adwoa Aboah and Marcus Rashford, alongside 18 further global activists. Indeed, the photographer’s acclaim was born primarily from his powerful black and white photography, shot on the streets of London during the Black Lives Matter protests in June. Why is Ending Racism a Debate? is Harriman’s most famous image.
The work will be on view at Sotheby’s London from 11-14 October [34-35 New Bond Street, W1S 2RT], while it is concurrently offered at auction online with an estimate of £3,000-5,000. It is being sold to benefit blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, a cause which is close to Harriman’s heart. This is the first time a work by the artist has ever been offered at sale, at auction or beyond, and thus presents a rare opportunity to acquire a photograph by one of the biggest names working in photography today. Why is Ending Racism a Debate first went viral after a series of influential figures shared Misan’s image on Instagram, including Edward Enninful, Dina Asher-Smith, Lewis Hamilton and Martin Luther King III.
Captured outside the US embassy in London, the shot shows the, then anonymous, 18-year old England U21s hockey player Darcy Bourne, stood with the oversized home-made sign which she had painted just moments before. Harriman recalled how he spotted his subject standing on the pavement, before asking her to step into the road and turn to face him. At that very moment, a protester shot their fist in the air behind Bourne, and the result was magic: an image which has defined a generation. Speaking of the moment, Darcy Bourne recalls: “I’d written my sign moments before; the paint was still wet when the photo was taken. I wrote that question because I’m in disbelief every day that we still have to fight for equality, and I wanted to remind people of the purpose of the movement. I feel so lucky that I met Misan, and that this photo went viral, because it has given me a platform that I can use to try and make a difference. When Martin Luther king III posted the image, I was in complete shock, because I have always looked up to him and his father’s work in the human rights movement, and it meant the world to me that he shared this photo. Misan’s talent is undeniable; he consistently displays the raw emotions of the people, shining a light on us and the power of the movement. He is an incredible man who I can now call a good friend. I have supported and believed in the Anthony Nolan Charity for several years now, so I am glad I can be involved with such an important organisation and that this image will be sold to support it.”
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan said: “We are very grateful to Misan and to Sotheby’s for offering this work to benefit Anthony Nolan. We know that a person’s stem cell match is most likely to come from someone with the same ethnic background as them, and currently only 20% of stem cell transplant patients who are Black or have mixed Black heritage receive a match from an unrelated donor. Therefore, increasing the diversity of the UK stem cell register is vital, and it is important that we continue to find the best way possible to work with young people from different communities. If you are between the ages of 16-30 and in good health, you can join the Anthony Nolan register at www.anthonynolan.org/join .”