Art of Change: Artists from the
Deutsche Bank Collection at the Barbican in London

At the moment, the whole world seems to be in a state of upheaval, longing for change. Accordingly, the motto of this year’s Barbican season is The Art of Change. The works presented show how artists are reacting to current political issues and calling for social change. Within the framework of The Art of Change, two exhibitions of artists from the Deutsche Bank Collection are now on view: Yto Barrada: Agadir and Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins.

At the center of Yto Barrada’s exhibition is the Moroccan port of Agadir. In 1960, the city was destroyed by a devastating earthquake and then rebuilt in the modernist style of the day. Barrada’s films, sculptures, collages, and performances investigate how a city can be resurrected after such a catastrophe. In a large wall drawing, the Deutsche Bank “Artist of the Year” 2011 shows examples of Brutalist concrete architecture built after the quake. Astonishingly, these new buildings correspond with the Barbican, which was also designed in the 1960s. The cultural center also owes its existence to a disaster: It is situated in the part of the city that was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War. Whether in London or in Agadir, the architecture stands for the utopia of a radical new beginning after a traumatic experience.

Many of the people on view in the photographs in Another Kind of Life also had such experiences, from the street kids in the USA that Mary Ellen Mark accompanied with her camera for the project Streetwise, to Mona Ahmed, whom Dayanita Singh has portrayed repeatedly since 1989. Mona belongs to the so-called hijiras, eunuchs who earn a living by dancing at weddings. Mona was not only rejected by her family, but also by the community of eunuchs. Left to her own devices, she lives at a cemetery, but does not seem broken in any way.

Another Kind of Life brings together more than 300 photographs and films that show people at the fringes of society. Apart from Singh, many of the other artists included in the exhibition are also represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection, for example Teresa Margolles, Boris Mikhailov, and Alec Soth. And the South African Pieter Hugo. His portraits of “Hyena Men,” showmen who move through Nigeria with hyenas, are among the highlights of the show. Fans of youth subcultures are also in for a treat at the Barbican. Chris Steele-Perkins documents the scene of the British Teds, a world full of quiffs, petticoats, and rock ‘n’ roll. A real discovery are Igo Palmin’s photographs of Russian teenagers who live out hippie dreams in desolate industrial landscapes. He took them in the late 1970s. With guitars, bell-bottoms, and hairbands the teenagers signalize their longing for Flower Power and the Summer of Love, but also show a critical distance to conformist Soviet society.

Yto Barrada: Agadir
Until 5/20/2018

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins
2/28/2018 – 5/27/2018

Barbican Centre, London