February: Books and Exhibitions

La Cucaracha

19 February  to 14 March at Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London

“Hobbled by life, but triumphal all the same,” goes the line in La Cucaracha, an ever-popular Mexican folk song that tells the tale of a five-legged cockroach, struggling to walk with its missing hind leg, yet thriving all the same. La Cucaracha is also the title of Pieter Hugo’s latest book (published by RM Editions), the culmination of two years visiting Mexico, in which the cockroach serves as a metaphor for the people – as it does in the song – and their struggles and betrayals. Hugo began with a commission to make new work “about sex and mortality”, and it was Mexico’s complex relationship to the latter that drew him in, and saw him returning there for three more extended visits.

The Snake Charmer, Hermosillo, 2019 © Pieter Hugo.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography

20 February to 17 May at Barbican Art Gallery, London

In the era of #MeToo, the image of masculinity has come into sharper focus, with ideas of toxic and fragile masculinity permeating today’s society. Bringing together 300 works by nearly 60 artists, a timely exhibition at the Barbican explores how masculinity has been coded and performed since the 1960s. Masculinities: Liberation through Photography charts its often complex and sometimes contradictory representations, touching on themes including power, patriarchy, queer identity, female perceptions of men, and hyper-masculine stereotypes.

Street Fashion: Jock, from the series Gay Semiotics, 1977-2016 © Hal Fischer, courtesy of Project Native Informant, London.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize

21 February to 07 June at The Photographer’s Gallery

Seven years after his Deeds Not Words show, Mark Neville returns to The Photographers’ Gallery, this time as one of four shortlisted artists for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. He is nominated for Parade, a three-year project working with the farming community in Guingamp in Brittany, the result of which is – typically for Neville – both an in-depth documentary portrait and a campaign, calling for more humane and sustainable farming practices. Also nominated are Mohamed Bourouissa with Free Trade, a compilation of five projects shown at Rencontres d’Arles; Clare Strand’s The Discrete Channel with Noise, shown at PhotoEspaña, and Anton Kusters’ The Blue Skies Project, seen as an installation at Fitzrovia Chapel in London, created in collaboration with the curator, Monica Allende. The winner will be announced on 14 May, collecting a grand prize of £30,000.

Parade #15, 2019 © Mark Neville.

Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories

Photobook published by Tashcen

Before his death last September, the lauded fashion and portrait photographer Peter Lindbergh spent two years curating what would be his final exhibition. It was, in fact, the first show he had ever compiled himself, collecting some 150 images taken from as far back as the early 1980s, and all giving individual insights into the photographer’s methods and relationships. To accompany the exhibition at the Düsseldorf Kunstpalast (until 01 June), Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories, a hefty volume featuring never-before-seen images and anecdotes, but also a special dedication from his close friend, Wim Wenders, is published by Taschen this month.

Uma Thurman, New York, 2016 © Peter Lindbergh.

Laia Abril: A History of Misogyny, Chapter Two: On Rape

On show at Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire in Paris, France, until 22 February

A violent attack in Spain galvanised Laia Abril to begin the next episode in her project highlighting stigmatised issues: A History of Misogyny – which derives from a need “to tell the most uncomfortable, hidden, stigmatised and misunderstood stories”. The most recent chapter, On Rape, is approached with the same research-based, journalistic rigour, and seeks to expand her visual archives on the systemic control of women’s bodies over time and cultures. “We speak of rape as if it is a female topic, for only us to discuss. It’s not. It’s a man issue. And it is everybody’s problem,” said Abril in an interview with BJP last month.

Ala Kachuu (Bride Kidnapping), Kyrgyzstan, 2019, from the series Power Rapes, On Rape. © Laia Abril.

Anthony Luvera: Taking Place

On show at The Gallery at Foyles in Soho, London, until 29 February

Currently on show at The Gallery at Foyles in Soho, central London, Anthony Luvera: Taking Place presents two projects: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Assembly, which was commissioned by Brighton Photo Fringe in 2014. Featuring images taken by people experiencing homelessness, as well as assisted self portraits and screen grabs from the process of editing, alongside the photographer’s ongoing collaborative research project about support and services available to homeless people. A programme of talks on homelessness and housing justice will be held on 27 February 2020.

Assisted Self-Portrait of Ben Evans from Assembly © Anthony Luvera.

Young London Photographers: Common Ground

05 to 15 February at Autograph in Shoreditch, London

Autograph’s sixth annual student showcase presents new work by 20 photographers aged 16-19 who respond to the rapidly shifting political and social climate of the capital, exploring issues around sexual identity, community, and race. The program, Album, aims to support young practitioners and provide access to industry professionals, each year offering students from sixth form and further education colleges the opportunity to work with artists and curators to develop their practice and create new work. 

From the series The Regal Britarabasian Hybrid, 2019-20. © Fatimah Al-Zahraa Zahmoul.

Lillian Bassman: Redefining Fashion

27 February until 18 April 2020 at Atlas Gallery, London

Fashion photographer and Harper’s Bazaar art director Lillian Bassman (1917-2012) was renowned for her images of New York’s actresses, models, and society women of the 1950s and 60s. She began to work for Harper’s Bazaar under Alexey Brodovitch in the 1940s, where she promoted the careers of Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, and her husband Paul Himmel. In an industry dominated by the perspective of male photographers, Bassman’s images, which go on show in London later this month, offer an alternative vision of women in fashion.

Carmen, dress by Charles James, c. 1950s. © The Estate of Lillian Bassman.