I was inspired to visit this exhibition by an article in Black+White Photography ( Evans 2016,7) which was illustrated by his image of the girl and pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Based on the article, I was expecting a surreal and ‘mythical’ set of images. I had viewed the Strange and Familiar exhibition at the Barbican earlier in the day and Larrain’s images there do fit the description.
The images at Magnum are rather different, particularly the South American images, in a more documentary style, appearing more considered and ‘photographic’.
The whole exhibition experience is very different from the normal gallery experience. The Print Room is part of a working environment. Access to the building is by entryphone and half the prints are simply resting on the workbenches rather than hung on the walls. The overall feeling is of being a guest rather than a gallery visitor.
The first ten images are from London in 1958 and ’59, mainly street scenes (including the pigeons image) but also a private party and the Chelsea Arts Ball. The other 36 are from South America, mainly Chile.
The Chile images give a striking impression of small-town back-street life. there are photographs taken in bars but my favourites are those of the street kids. In one, we see then climbing and playing on the steelwork beneath a bridge. In others, we see them rough sleeping. As noted earlier, these are much ‘straighter’ and more documentary in style than the London images.
Evans, A.B. (2016) ‘Exhibition of the month’ In: Black+White Photography 188 p7
Larrain, S. (1957) Children living around the Mapocho river and sleeping under bridges. [online] at: http://mediastore2.magnumphotos.com/CoreXDoc/MAG/Media/TR2/f/6/a/d/PAR102871.jpg (accessed 19 April 2016)