Vanessa Winship, Dorothea Lange, and a huge group show on alternative lives coming up at the Barbican

Vanessa Winship’s biggest UK show to date, the first UK retrospective of Dorothea Lange, and a huge group exhibition including work by photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Dayanita Singh, Alec Soth, Chris Steele-Perkins, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Pieter Hugo, Bruce Davidson, and Boris Mikhailov – they’re all coming up this year at London’s Barbican Centre, in a season titled The Art of Change.

Running throughout the whole of 2018, The Art of Change season will explore “how artists respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape”. The photography group show, Another Kind of Life: Photography at the Margins, opens from 28 February – 27 May, and includes 20 photographers selected by Barbican curator Alona Pardo. Bringing together over 300 works from the 1950s to now, including specialist magazines and photobooks as well as prints, the show considers photographers’ ongoing fascination with those on the margins of society and how they have engaged with these groups, and touches on themes such as gender, caste, gang culture, and street life.

From the series The Ninety Nine © Katy Grannan, courtesy the artist and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Evelyn, La Palmera, Santiago. From the series La Manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple), 1983
© Paz Errázuriz / Courtesy of the artist
Untitled XVI, Stavropol Krai, USSR, 1977. From the series The Enchanted Wanderer, 1977, courtesy of the artist © Igor Palmin

Vanessa Winship and Dorothea Lange’s exhibitions are on both on show from 22 June – 02 September. Winship, who was born in the UK in 1960, is known for working on long-term personal projects, such as Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey 1 (2006), Black Sea: Between chronicle and fiction (2007), and Sweet Nothings: The Schoolgirls from the Borderlands of Eastern Anatolia (2007), which was exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2008. In 2011 she was the first woman to win the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson prize, and she subsequently made a series in the US, she dances on Jackson, which was published by Mack Books in 2013.

Winship had a major retrospective at Fundación MAPFRE gallery in Madrid in 2014 during PHotoEspaña, which was accompanied by a catalogue. Her Barbican show will bring together more than 150 photographs, many of which have never previously been seen in the UK.

“It was a strange city and seemed to have been cast up in a valley one winters night like some prehistoric creature.It was not easy to be a child in that place” (Ismail Kadare Chronicle in Stone). Untitled, from the series Imagined States and Desires: A Balkan Journey, 1999-2003 © Vanessa Winship
A choreographer of the states greatest dance company, the world at his feet, had gone on tour with his wife, a young and beautiful dancer. One night after a show a group had gone out to celebrate. They were strangers in that town and didn’t know the streets. A robbery occurred, his young wife had her jewellery snatched. There was a fight, and in the fray a terrible and fatal accident happened. He had fallen into a deep an impenetrable depression. No one knew what to do or how to console him. Gori, Georgia. Untitled, from the series Black Sea: Between Chronicle and Fiction, 2002-2006 © Vanessa Winship
Untitled, from the series Sweet Nothings: School Girls of Eastern Anatolia, 2007 © Vanessa Winship

Dorothea Lange, meanwhile, needs little introduction – born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1895, she experienced a difficult childhood, contracting polio at age 7 and seeing her family abandoned by her father at age 23, but went on to become one of the giants of documentary photography. She’s best known for shooting the impact of the Great Depression on the American population for the Farm Security Administration from 1935-39, a body of work that includes the iconic portrait Migrant Mother (1936).

Lange went on to show the plight of interned Japanese-Americans during World War Two, and collaborated with photographers such as Ansel Adams to record the social changes in 1950s USA. Lange co-founded Aperture magazine in 1952, and died in San Francisco in 1965.

The Barbican is also showing two other photo-related shows in The Art of Change season – an installation called Agadir by Yto Barrada in The Curve from 07 February – 20 May, and an exhibition called Modern Couples – Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde from , which includes a look at the lives of Man Ray and Lee Miller, and Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko. Other events include musical performances, plays and dance.

Another Kind of Life: Photography at the Margins is on show from 28 February – 27 May; Vanessa Winship and Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing are on show from The Art of Change season continues throughout the whole of 2018:

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California
Migratory Cotton Picker, Eloy, Arizona, 1940 © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California
White Angel Breadline, San Francisco, 1933 © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California
Drought Refugees, ca. 1935 © The Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy