Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70sThis exhibition is supported by The Japan Foundation, Institut Français, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Nehru Centre.
13 Sep 2012 – 13 Jan 2013
Barbican Art Gallery, London
Media View: 10am – 1pm, Wed 12 Sep
This major photography exhibition surveys the medium from an international perspective, and includes renowned photographers from across the globe, all working during two of the most memorable decades of the 20th Century. Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s tells a history of photography, through the photography of history. It brings together over 350 works, some rarely seen, others recently discovered and many shown in the UK for the first time. Everything Was Moving opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 13 September 2012.
It features key figures of modern photography including Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, David Goldblatt, Graciela Iturbide, Boris Mikhailov and Shomei Tomatsu, as well as important practitioners whose lives were cut tragically short such as Ernest Cole and Raghubir Singh. Each contributor has, in different ways, advanced the aesthetic language of photography, as well as engaging with the world they inhabit in a profound and powerful way.
The exhibition is set in one of the defining periods of the modern age – a time that remains an inescapable reference point even today. The world changed dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s, shaped by the forces of post-colonialism, and Cold War neo-colonialism. This momentous epoch in history coincided with a golden age in photography: the moment when the medium flowered as a modern art form.
Great auteur photographers emerged around the ‘developed’ and the ‘developing’ world. Many, working increasingly independently from the illustrated press, and freed from the restraints of brief and commission, were able to approach the world on their own terms, and to introduce a new level of complexity to photographic imagery. Others, such as Li Zhensheng (China) and Ernest Cole (South Africa), found themselves living in situations of extreme repression, but devised inspiring strategies to create major works of photography in secrecy and at huge personal risk.
Back in the 1960s, many commentators viewed photography as inferior to painting or sculpture, because it simply recorded, mechanically, what could be seen, and was judged to be concerned primarily with reporting the facts (journalism) or campaigning for change (social documentary). Attitudes changed during this period, and the art museum slowly opened its doors to the medium. Less concerned to change the world, or to merely describe it, a new generation of photographers were driven to understand that world, as well as their place within it.
Kate Bush, Head of Art Galleries, Barbican Centre, said:
I am delighted to bring together an amazing group of photographers whose striking and powerful images of the 1960s and 1970s make us look at the world again. Everything Was Moving explores a spectrum of different photographic approaches, and asks if, in the early 21st century, we are finally prepared to erase the distinction between art photography and documentary photography.
The exhibition presents a selection of works by the Chinese photographer, Li Zhensheng, some never before revealed in public. An aspiring artist and filmmaker, Li Zhensheng worked throughout the tumultuous decade of the Cultural Revolution (1966 –1976) for the Heilongjiang Daily, the local newspaper of Harbin in the far North East of China, on the border with Russia. He, like everyone else in the country found himself caught up in the mad spiral of indoctrination and violence that was Mao’s ‘revolution’– at times as a participant, at others as a victim. At great personal risk, Li Zhensheng photographed in secret, and then buried those photographs, some 30,000 negatives, under his mud floor. The material only came fully to light in the West at the end of the 20th century. It is the most complete visual record known of this extraordinary period of human history.
In a very different response to totalitarianism, acclaimed conceptual photographer, Boris Mikhailov lived and worked in Kharkhov at the height of Soviet domination of the Ukraine. Mikhailov developed a distinctive artistic approach, with which to evade the censors and to satirize Soviet occupation, as well as the tenets of socialist realism. The exhibition includes the first UK showing of his very first series, Yesterday’s Sandwich, 1968 –1975, a collection of radical, often hilarious montages.
A pioneer of colour, Indian artist Raghubir Singh (1942 –1999) was driven to create a photography that was emphatically modern and Indian. He broke abruptly with the colonial tradition of single-point perspective, picturesque, depopulated landscapes – to describe an India which was peopled, frenetic and luminous. His so-called theory of ‘Ganges modernism’ pitted colour and spirituality against the monochromatic angst and alienation of Western figures such as Robert Frank and Diane Arbus. The work of Singh has never been thoroughly evaluated in the UK, and this selection includes rarely seen images from the extraordinary archives of the early part of his career.
In stark contrast to Singh’s colourful exuberance, an unrelentingly black-and-white aesthetic emerged in Japan, exemplified by the work of Shomei Tomatsu who is widely considered the ‘godfather’ of modern Japanese photography and a major influence on Daido Moriyama. In Tomatsu’s first-ever British museum showing, life in 1960s and 1970s Japan is evoked in metaphoric, angry, uncompromisingly monochrome pictures. Tomatsu rails against continuing American military occupation at Okinawa (the base from which Vietnam was being bombed); the growing impact of American capitalism on Japanese culture; and the devastating psychological legacy of Nagasaki.
Where most of Africa was – in theory at least – liberated from colonial domination by the early 1960s, in South Africa, a government – inspired by Nazi Germany and ignored by the West – was starting to build its heinous apartheid regime. Across the Atlantic, in another society dominated by white racism and racial segregation, the Southern states of America saw the stirrings of change as the civil rights movement gathered pace. The struggle for civil rights –from Selma to Soweto, the Amazon to Londonderry – was to define the spirit of the times: as did an increasingly angry global opposition to the neo-colonial war that America was waging in Vietnam.
Johannesburg-based David Goldblatt, is, perhaps more than any other photographer since Eugène Atget, linked inextricably with the country of his birth. Over five decades, Goldblatt has created arguably one of the most important bodies of documentary photography in the history of the medium. He has forged a complex, contradictory tableau of South Africa’s fractured society, during and after apartheid. For this exhibition, Goldblatt has personally revisited his major series of the 1960s and 1970s, from On the Mines (with Nadine Gordimer), to Some Afrikaners Photographed, and In Boksburg . The selection includes rarely exhibited works.
Long thought lost for ever, an incredible collection of vintage prints by the black South African Ernest Cole (1940–1990) was recently rediscovered and will be shown for the first time in Britain at Barbican Art Gallery. Cole somehow persuaded the Race Classification Board that he was not ‘black’ but ‘coloured’ (he changed his name from Kole to Cole) and was therefore able to practice as a photographer at a time when many black photographers were persecuted and imprisoned. Cole’s courage and determination were matched by his artistic talent. He escaped South Africa on 9 May 1966, and in exile in New York was to publish House of Bondage, 1967, an indelible record of what it was to be black under apartheid. Cole was never able to return home and he died in poverty, his negatives given away, it is believed, in lieu of an unpaid hotel bill.
South Africa ’s extraordinary tradition of realist photography during this period is contrasted with major American contemporaries. Bruce Davidson and William Eggleston are two of the giants of 20th century photography. In many ways, they are diametrically opposed in philosophy and approach, and yet at points in the 1960s they shared subject matter: both were photographing people and places in the contested landscape of the Southern states as the struggle for equality unfolded.
Time of Change, 1961–1965, one of Bruce Davidson’s most powerful series, has never been exhibited in the UK. On May 25, 1961 the 28-year old photographer joined a group of Freedom Riders making a terrifying journey by bus from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi. It was the starting point of a four-year project for Davidson, in which he captures the mood and the events of the civil rights struggle, in a series of poignant and empathetic pictures. Where Davidson was interested in the human reality of the south, in contrast, William Eggleston, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, perplexed the critics with his seeming lack of subject matter, lack of composition - and lack of a photographic agenda. Now, he is widely viewed as a brilliant innovator who revolutionized photography with his ‘democratic’, non-hierarchical vision, his ‘shotgun’ aesthetic and his radical use of colour. Eggleston’s classic pictures of the period – affectless, brooding images of the Deep South, saturated in vivid colour, and shot through with a sense of menace, equally conjure the mood of the time.
Also included: major contributions by Hasselblad-award winners Graciela Iturbide (Mexico) and Malick Sidib é (Mali); a little-seen allegorical work by Sigmar Polke (Germany) ; and a selection of Larry Burrows’ (UK) powerful Vietnam portraits.
Notes to Editors
For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Ann Berni , Media Relations Manager +44 20 7382 7169, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jess Hookway, Media Relations Officer +44 20 7382 6162, email@example.com
0845 120 7 550, www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery
Barbican Art Gallery, London
Daily 11am–8pm, Wed 11am–6pm, Thu until 10pm
Tickets: Standard £10 online/£12 on the door, Concessions £7 online/£8 on the door
Secondary school (groups of ten or more) £6, Under 12s free
Red members: Free entry + guest
Orange members: Free entry
Yellow members: 30% off + 30% off guest
The exhibition is accompanied with a fully-illustrated catalogue with essays by Kate Bush, Head of Art Galleries, Barbican, and curator of the exhibition, and Gerry Badger – author of the first major television history: The Genius of Photography (2007), and a two-volume study of the photobook, written with Martin Parr, entitled The Photobook: A History (2004 and 2006). The catalogue will also include a series of original writings by some of the photographers including David Goldblatt, Raghubir Singh and Ernest Cole.
Talks & Events
A series of talks, films and workshops accompanies the exhibition.
Highlights include a rare opportunity to hear South African photographer David Goldblatt in conversation with London based photographic-duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin on Thursday 13 September.
For more information visit barbican.org.uk
Barbican Art Gallery
For over twenty years, Barbican Art Gallery has led the way in the UK in championing photography as an art form: presenting, for example, the first major British exhibitions by William Eggleston and Bill Brandt – and the first exhibition in Europe dedicated to Japanese photography Beyond Japan, 1991. Photography is today much more ubiquitous in museums and galleries generally, but Barbican Art Gallery remains committed to exploring a broad and diverse history of the medium. In 2006, In the Face of History: European Photographers in the 20th Century, was one of the first exhibitions to explore photography on both sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and included photographers such as Josef Sudek, Christer Stromholm, and Emmy Andriesse who had been long overlooked.
On the Subject of War , in 2009 considered the contemporary representation of conflict through the prism of historical war photography.
One of the leading art spaces in the UK, Barbican Art Gallery presents the best of international visual art with a dynamic mix of art, architecture, photography, fashion and design. From acclaimed architects to Turner prize-winning artists, the Gallery exhibits innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries: key players who have shaped developments and stimulated change. The Curve is dedicated to a vibrant programme of new commissions, created by leading international artists in direct response to this distinctive gallery space.
All Barbican Centre press releases, news announcements and the Media Relations team’s contact details are listed on our website at barbican.org.uk/news
About the Barbican
A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including visual arts, dance, film, music and theatre. Our creative learning programme further underpins everything we do. In 2012 we celebrate the Olympic year with many of our projects forming part of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival – it is also our 30th birthday year. Over 1.5 million people pass through our doors each year, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. Our architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, the Barbican Hall, Barbican Theatre, the Pit theatre, a cinema (with two new cinemas to open in September), foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants.
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