The Barbican Art Gallery presents an exhibition entitled Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins which examines how photographers have engaged with those on the margins of society.
The exhibition features the work of 20 photographers including Bruce Davidson, Paz Errázuriz, Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Boris Mikhailov, Daido Moriyama and Dayanita Singh. Over 300 works from the 1950s to the present are on show, the exhibition includes vintage and contemporary prints, archival material, specialist magazines, rare film and photo books.
The exhibition begins by showcasing two of the United States most famous photographers, Diana Arbus and Bruce Davidson. The Bruce Davidson’s series The Dwarf and Brooklyn Gang was taken in the late 1950s in New Jersey and Coney Island; and was only recently discovered at a Manhattan flea market.
Two celebrated Japanese photographers, Daido Moriyama and Seiji Kurata explore some of the seedy and hidden aspects of the notorious Ikebukuro and Shinjuku districts of Tokyo.
The little known works of Russian photographer Igor Palmin entitled The Enchanted Wanderer (1977) and The Disquiet (1977), features Soviet Hippies in desolate landscapes. Other counterculture movements are recorded by Philippe Chancel, Walter Pfeiffer and Chris Steele-Perkins who charts the rise of the Teddy Boys in 1970s Britain.
Moving to the higher level of the gallery, Alec Soth’s Broken Manuel (2006–10) documents those who turn their back on society, his images of monks, survivalists, hermits and runaways in America provide an alternative narrative to the mainstream.
Some of the most remarkable images in the exhibition are the series called The Hyena and Other Men (2005–2007) by South African photographer Pieter Hugo of a group of urban nomads from Nigeria.
One of the most poignant parts of the exhibition is the film by Indian photographer Dayanita Singh who formed a long term friendship with Mona Ahmed, a eunuch from New Delhi who lived much of her life in a cemetery.
The series of photographs, Adam’s Apple (1982-87), by Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz of a community of transgender sex-workers working in an underground brothel in Chile in the 1980s underlines the point that living on the margins is often a dangerous place to be with persecution and brutality commonplace.
This intriguing exhibition explores the often diverse and complex relationship between the artist and disenfranchised communities. By their very nature, these communities are wary of outsiders and photographers often have to earn the communities trust before they are accepted. Many of the photographers in Another Kind of Life needed to follow this process to create their own distinctive take on countercultures, subcultures and minorities of all kinds. In many ways this benefits the photographer who avoids accusations of exploitation and is considered to be presenting an authentic representation of disenfranchised communities.
Video Review available here
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information , visit the Barbican website here
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