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Everything Was Moving: telling history through photography

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With 400 works from 12 photographers of the 1960s and 70s, this exhibition aims to tell "a history of photography through the photography of history".
Issue 2323
Ernest Cole’s photograph from apartheid South Africa in the 1960s shows black people arrested for being in a white area
Ernest Cole’s photograph from apartheid South Africa in the 1960s shows black people arrested for being in a white area

With 400 works from 12 photographers of the 1960s and 70s, this exhibition aims to tell “a history of photography through the photography of history”.

It’s a huge task—and the result is an overwhelming mass of photos.

Bruce Davidson depicts the US civil rights movement, from the struggle in Harlem to haunting images of Ku Klux Klan burnings in the South.

Davidson’s 1962 image “Father and Son” shows a humble interaction that is joyful while heartbreaking.

Li Zhensheng’s work is a highlight. Developed during the Chinese “cultural revolution”, 30,000 of his negatives were unearthed at the end of the 20th century. They give insight into Mao Xedong’s regime in 1960s China.

Some of his most descriptive works are his self-portraits. These images are nostalgic, at times overly melodramatic, but always remarkable. His work is the most complete visual record of this period of human history.

And I’d challenge anyone to find a more perfect image outside of cinema than Graciela Iturbide’s Angel Woman, Sonora Desert, 1970. It’s incredible.

Siobhan Schwartzberg

Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s runs until 13 January at Barbican Art Gallery, London

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