Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins

Gazing directly into the camera, Paz Errazuriz’s arresting photograph of Pilar, a cross-dresser working in an underground brothel in Chile during the 1980s.

The exhibition is supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. 
Media Partner: AnOther Magazine


Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins looks at the continuing fascination of artists with those on the margins of society through the photographic medium.  Some of the most powerful images of the 20thand 21st century are the result of a determined and often prolonged engagement with communities seemingly at odds with, or on the fringes of, the mainstream. Another Kind of Life explores photography’s relationship with this compelling subject through the work of 20 exceptional image-makers, including Bruce DavidsonPaz ErrázurizCasa SusannaLarry ClarkMary Ellen MarkBoris MikhailovDaido Moriyama and Dayanita Singh. Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change, which reflects on the dialogue between art, society and politics, the exhibition directly – and at times poetically – addresses difficult questions about what it means to exist in the margins, the role artists have played in portraying subcultures and the complex intermingling between artistic and mainstream depictions of the outsider. Another Kind of Life opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 28 February 2018.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: ‘Barbican Art Gallery has always championed groundbreaking photography, placing it at the heart of our programme with recent highlights including Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age (2014) and Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers(2016).  Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins not only continues the Barbican’s commitment to presenting outstanding bodies of work but also demonstrates our desire to address issues that stretch beyond art and help us understand the world from new perspectives. As one of the flagship projects of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change, Another Kind of Life could not be more timely or relevant. A show that tells 20 stories by 20 photographers who all approach their subjects with a humanity and empathy that is both empowering and inclusive’.

Reflecting a diverse, complex and authentic view of the world, the exhibition touches on themes of gender and sexuality, countercultures, subcultures and minorities of all kinds. Bringing together over 300 works from the 1950s to now, the exhibition includes vintage and contemporary prints, archival material, specialist magazines, rare film and photo books, from leading photographers who developed these relationships and bodies of works over months, years or even decades. By recording and documenting those on the edges, or outside of the mainstream, the images in Another Kind of Life bear witness to how social attitudes change across time and space, charting how visual representation has helped shape current discourse in relation to marginalised or alternative communities.

New York photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s long term project, Streetwise (1983) focuses on her time spent with Erin Charles, a street kid known as ‘Tiny’, who she first met as a 13 year old and shows the harsh realities of life on the streets of Seattle. Whilst Indian photographer Dayanita Singh formed a deeply profound and meaningful friendship over 30 years with Mona Ahmed, a eunuch from New Delhi who was both feared and revered, an outcast amongst outcasts, living much of her life in a cemetery. As well as the groundbreaking photo book, with profoundly honest and frank words by Mona, the exhibition includes a poignant film, shot in one take, of a very still Mona listening to her favourite song Rasik Balma from the 1956 romantic comedy Chori Chori.

Driven by motivations both personal and political, many of the photographers in Another Kind of Life sought to provide an authentic representation of disenfranchised communities often conspiring with them to construct their own identity through the camera lens. The beautifully arresting series of photographs, Adam’s Apple (1982-87), by Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz are of a community of transgender sex-workers working in an underground brothel in Chile in the 1980s. Taken during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet when gender non-conforming people were regularly subjected to curfews, persecutions and police brutality, the photographs are a collaborative and defiant act of political resistance.

In Alec Soth’s Broken Manual (2006–10) he documents men living off the grid. His atmospheric images, both colour and black and white, are of monks, survivalists, hermits and runaways who all have in common the need to disappear in America. Set in an apocalyptic post-industrial landscape of Southern Russia, on a site of an archaeological expedition, the little known work of Russian photographer Igor PalminThe Enchanted Wanderer (1977) and The Disquiet (1977), features Soviet Hippies in their bell-bottoms and flower power hair bands, playing guitars in opium filled trailers or standing alone on desolate lands.

Emerging out of the post-war gloom of Britain, the Teddy boys were a youth movement who adopted the style of Edwardian dandies, with their brylcreem quiffs, three-quarter length drape jackets and beetle crusher shoes. British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins captures their lives, loves, music and fashion in The Teds, taken in the streets, ballrooms, pubs and clubs across the UK in the late 1970s.

Celebrated Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama’s seminal work, Japan Photo Theatre (1968) is featured as well as his lesser known protégé Seiji Kurata, whose series of starkly lit images from Flash Up (1975–79) depicts the seedy, often violent underbelly of gang culture in the notorious Ikebukuro and Shinjuku districts of Tokyo.  Whilst Walter Pfeiffer, who emerged on the peripheries of documentary photography in the 1970s and now flourishes in the mainstreams of contemporary fashion and style bibles, is represented by his body of work of young transsexual friend Carlo Joh, from the Zurich gay scene taken over a few months in 1973.

Other highlights include The Hyena and Other Men (2005–2007) by South African photographer Pieter Hugo of a group of urban nomads from Nigeria; legendary American photographer Bruce Davidson’s series The Dwarf and Brooklyn Gang taken in the late 1950s in New Jersey and Coney Island; and recently discovered at a Manhattan flea market, a collection of around 400 prints taken during the mid-50s and 60s at Casa Susanna, a private retreat for transvestites— a safe haven in upstate New York where they posed for the camera, in glamorous dresses, playing cards, eating dinner and having drinks by the fire.

Photographers include:
Diane ArbusCasa Susanna, Philippe Chancel, Larry Clark, Bruce Davidson, Mary Ellen MarkPaz Errázuriz, Jim GoldbergKaty GrannanPieter Hugo, Seiji Kurata, Danny Lyon, Teresa Margolles, Boris MikhailovDaido MoriyamaIgor Palmin, Walter Pfeiffer, Dayanita Singh Alec Soth and Chris Steele-Perkins


Notes to Editors

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins, 28 February to 27 May 2018, is curated by Barbican Art Gallery and designed by Casper Mueller Kneer Architects.  The exhibition is supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. 
Media Partner: AnOther Magazine

Important Notes
Another Kind of Life includes some images that deal with challenging issues.
This exhibition contains some works of an adult nature. Parental guidance advised, and children 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Large bags, rucksacks and luggage are not permitted in the gallery. All bags are subject to search.
Photography is not permitted.
Food and drink are not permitted.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Prestel and features beautifully reproduced works by all the photographers in the exhibition. Edited by Barbican curator Alona Pardo, it includes contributions from writers David Campany, Lucy Davies, Duncan Forbes, Sophie Hackett, Max Houghton, Sean O’Hagan, Alistair O’Neill, Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa and Francesco Zanot.
Price: £39.99 ISBN: 978-3-7913-8427-6 

A rich programme of talks and events accompanies the exhibition. Check the website for full listings:

Desert Island Pics: Alec Soth
Thursday 3 May 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1
Part of a long-running touring series of Photoworks talks, acclaimed Magnum photographer Alec Soth reveals the eight photographs he would take with him to a desert island.
Loosely following the format of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Soth will discuss his choices with host Stephen Bull and explore how his choices reflect his life and career.
This event is organised in collaboration with Photoworks.

In Conversation: Dayanita Singh and David Campany
Wednesday 9 May 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 2
Acclaimed photographer Dayanita Singh discusses her practice, which operates at the rich intersection of art and documentary photography, with writer and curator David Campany, focusing particularly on her evocative still and moving images of Mona Ahmed, with whom she had a life-long collaboration.

Documenting Youth Culture - Youth Club Archive panel discussion
Thursday 10 May 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 2
A panel discussion exploring the important role that photographs and magazines play in recording youth culture.
The panel includes acclaimed Magnum photographer Chris Steele-Perkins, Jamie Brett from YOUTH CLUB Archive and Gabriele Rohmann from the Berlin Archive of Youth Culture.

Performance: The Choir with No Name
Thursday 24 May 7pm, Art Gallery
To celebrate the final week of Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins The Choir with No Name will perform in Barbican Art Gallery. Established in 2008, The Choir with No Name is a charity running choirs for homeless and marginalised people in London, Liverpool and Birmingham. Rehearsing weekly and performing in a wide variety of places – from homeless hostels to concert halls – the group harnesses the restorative nature of singing together, reinstating a sense of pride and self-belief that may have been lost.

Dream of Consciousness: Jonny Woo, David Selley and Simon Ribchester
A musical of Jonny Woo’s life penned by his collaborators.
Friday 25 May10.30pm, Club Stage Level -1

One of London’s leading figures in cabaret and alternative variety, ‘Dream of Consciousness’ will recount tales of Jonny Woo’s time in New York and London with vocal and musical support from David Selley and Simon Ribchester., and guest appearances from Woo’s contemporaries and protegées.

Creative Learning
Schools Offer

A downloadable teacher’s resource, highlighting key themes and questions raised by the exhibition, will be available to support secondary school visits. A special school group rate alongside free exhibition tours, suitable for secondary school groups is £3 per student (Secondary and sixth form, up to age 19) and applies to all school groups of 10 or more. To ensure a free exhibition tour as part of the visit, bookings must be made at least two weeks in advance

Please contact the school groups booking line: Tel: 020 7382 7211 (Mon–Fri 10am–5pm) Email:

Events and Tours for Young People
Barbican is hosting special views for Young Barbican members on 20 March and 8 May, offering young people the opportunity to visit the exhibition with content created for and by Young Barbican members. The Young Barbican membership is free and gives young people aged 14-25 discounted access to unmissable art and entertainment as well as exclusive events and creative opportunities.

Young Visual Arts Group
The Barbican Young Visual Arts Group, led by Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning and mentored by artist Jordan McKenzie, is presenting their annual showcase event, inspired by the themes and content of Another Kind of Life, on 19 and 20 May.  

Barbican Art Gallery Shop
In addition to the official exhibition catalogue the Gallery Shop also feature a wide selection of the featured photographers’ books and other related titles plus prints, stationery, postcards, photographic gifts and more. The best of the Barbican Shop ranges can be found online at

The Art of Change at the Barbican 2018
The Art of Change presents bold artistic responses to vital global issues including feminism, climate change and human rights, while providing a platform for voices currently underrepresented in the arts. The season includes world-class music, theatre, dance, film, visual arts and learning and runs throughout 2018.