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Strange and Familiar: Britain through the eyes of photographers

Place: London, Country: United Kingdom
Curated by Martin Parr
Images courtesy of The Barbican Art Gallery, London

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Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Installation view Barbican Art Gallery, © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images 

Strange and Familiar. The Barbican investigates Britain through the eyes of international photographers

Until 19 June, the Barbican Art Gallery in London presents Strange and Familiar:
Britain as Revealed by International Photographers.

Curated by the iconic British photographer Martin Parr, and designed by London based architects Witherford, Watson, Mann, the exhibition is a timely consideration of how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural, and political identity of the UK through the camera lens.

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Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Installation view Barbican Art Gallery, © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images 

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Jim Dow at the press view of Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for the Barbican Art Gallery

From social documentary and street photography to portraiture and architectural photography, “strange and familiar” includes works by Tina Barney, Gian Butturini, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson , Raymond Depardon, Rineke Dijkstra, Jim Dow, Hans Eijkelboom, Robert Frank, Bruce Gilden, Frank Habicht, Candida Höfer, Evelyn Hofer, Axel Hütte, Sergio Larrain, Shinro Ohtake, Akihiko Okamura, Cas Oorthuys, Gilles Peress, Paul Strand, Edith Tudor-Hart, Hans van der Meer, and Garry Winogrand.

Each of the 23 photographers has recorded different aspects of the British way of life, depicting its spirit and its evolution through time.

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Photographer Tina Barney with her work Barbican Art Gallery, London 16 February – 19 June 2016 © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images

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Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Installation view Barbican Art Gallery, © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images 

The exhibition begins with the photos made by Edith Tudor-Hart (Austrian-British) in the 1930s and continues with the those of the coronation of King George VI, shot by Henry Cartier-Bresson (French) in 1937.

In the Fifties, Paul Strand (American) depicted landscapes and everyday life at the Hebrides Islands, while Gian Butturini (Italian) and Frank Habicht (German) take the visitors into the euphoric atmosphere of the “swinging Sixties”.

The 1960s are also depicted through the ironic sight of Evelyn Hofer (German-American), in her portrayals of London’s trade keepers, of a butcher at the Smithfield Market, a group of taxi drivers gathering around a kiosk, a woman who sells lollypops, or of the Garrick Club’s waiters.

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Installation views, photo © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images 

Of particular significance, the surreal and poetic images by Shinro Ohtake (Japanese), exhibited for the first time in the UK, which create a visual diary of London in the Seventies.

The exhibition goes on with the gloomy urban landscapes depicted in Glasgow by Raymond Depardon (French), with the portraits by Rineke Dijkstra (Dutch) of young and vulnerable girls in a night club, with the images of Bruce Gilden (American), who photographs workmen so closely that even the thinnest details of their faces, including the most disquieting, are emphasized.

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Photo © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images

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Photo © Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images

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Bruce Gilden at the press view of Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for the Barbican Art Gallery

Finally, the wide selection of works by Hans Eijkelboom presented is arranged in a grid-like layout to create parallels and relationships based on similar clothing, gestures, and accessories, and to investigate the theme of self-representation in today’s globalized culture.

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers
Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, London, UK
16 March – 19 June 2016




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