Another Kind of Life: Barbican's new show explores people and communities on the fringes of society

Paz Errázuriz Evelyn, Santiago From the series La Manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple), 1983 © Paz Errázuriz / Courtesy of the artist

Some of the most powerful images of the 20th and 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: Photography on the Margins is a new exhibition at the Barbican that explores photography’s relationship with this compelling subject through the work of 20 exceptional image-makers, including Bruce Davidson, Paz Errázuriz, Casa Susanna, Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Boris Mikhailov, Daido 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 show 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.

Reflecting a diverse, complex and authentic view of the world, Another Kind of Life touches on themes of gender and sexuality, countercultures, subcultures and minorities of all kinds. Bringing together over 300 works from the 1950s to now, it 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 about marginalised or alternative communities.

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins runs at Barbican Art Gallery until 27 May 2018. More info at barbican.org.uk.

Igor Palmin Untitled XVI, Stavropol Krai, USSR, 1977 From the series The Enchanted Wanderer, 1977 Courtesy of the artist © Igor Palmin

Igor Palmin Untitled XVI, Stavropol Krai, USSR, 1977 From the series The Enchanted Wanderer, 1977 Courtesy of the artist © Igor Palmin

Katy Grannan Anonymous, San Francisco, 2009 From the series Boulevard © Katy Grannan, courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Katy Grannan Anonymous, San Francisco, 2009 From the series Boulevard © Katy Grannan, courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Philippe Chancel Untitled, 1982, From the series Rebel’s Paris 1982 Courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency, France

Philippe Chancel Untitled, 1982, From the series Rebel’s Paris 1982 Courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency, France

Katy Grannan Anonymous, Modesto, CA, 2010 From the series The Ninety Nine © Katy Grannan, courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Katy Grannan Anonymous, Modesto, CA, 2010 From the series The Ninety Nine © Katy Grannan, courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Philippe Chancel Untitled, 1982, From the series Rebel’s Paris 1982 Courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency, France

Philippe Chancel Untitled, 1982, From the series Rebel’s Paris 1982 Courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency, France

Paz Errázuriz Evelyn, La Palmera, Santiago From the series La Manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple), 1983 © Paz Errázuriz / Courtesy of the artist

Paz Errázuriz Evelyn, La Palmera, Santiago From the series La Manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple), 1983 © Paz Errázuriz / Courtesy of the artist

Igor Palmin Untitled, Arzgir, Stavropol Krai, USSR, 1977 From the series The Disquiet, 1977 Courtesy of the artist © Igor Palmin

Igor Palmin Untitled, Arzgir, Stavropol Krai, USSR, 1977 From the series The Disquiet, 1977 Courtesy of the artist © Igor Palmin