Everything Was Moving: Barbican's photographs from an exploding world

Sep 24, 2012

A visionary and engrossing photography show capturing social change in the 1960s and 70s


What you need to know
A major new exhibition of photography from the 1960s and 70s has opened at the Barbican. Everything Was Moving surveys many renowned photographers from the period and across the globe.

The show, curated by the Barbican's Kate Bush, presents over 400 works, many rarely seen and some recently discovered and shown in the UK for the first time.

It features the work of 12 key figures and includes American Civil Rights imagery from Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston's Southern Gothic, images of South Africa's apartheid era by David Goldblatt and Ernest Cole, and works commenting on Russian and Chinese oppression by Boris Mikhailov, Sigmar Polke, and Li Zhensheng. Runs until 13 January 2013.

What the critics like
The Barbican exhibition is "a visionary and utterly engrossing journey into the social and political realities of the 1960s and 70s", says Mark Hudson in The Daily Telegraph.

Rather than the predictable big names and iconic images it selects more personal works of photojournalism from this era. The cumulative effect is "moving".

This "superb" exhibition brings to light previously censored photographs from brutal regimes, says Sue Steward in The Evening Standard. Chinese photojournalist Li Zhensheng, imprisoned for documenting the Cultural Revolution, buried his negatives, while Ernest Cole's photographs of South African oppression, recently rediscovered in archives, combine "artistry with compassion".

This collection of photos offers a rare opportunity to reflect on two decades of revolution, war and social change, says Peter Popham in The Independent. It gives us "a snapshot of an exploding world"
just as the thing begins to blow. "You can almost hear the sound of ripping."

What they don't like
Sigmar Polke's photographs of bear baiting in Afghanistan are a swipe at Russian imperialism, says Sean O'Hagan in The Guardian. But the images, with their surfaces covered in dark washes and stains, are less easy to read. This is photography challenging photography's reliability, "but the series seems out of place here".

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