Hackney curators helped compile “visionary” photo montage Everything Was Moving at Barbican

Two curators from Hackney have helped compile an acclaimed photography exhibition at the Barbican, examining key works from two of the most memorable and defining decades of the 20th Century.

Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s has been labelled “visionary” and “engrossing” by national art critics, and brings together over 400 works.

They were plucked from the archives by Alona Pardo from Hackney Central and Juliette Desorgues from Lower Clapton, along with the Barbican’s head of art galleries, Kate Bush.

“At that time photography is going through a really changing world, it was considered a second cousin to painting, and had to work very hard to achieve a similar standing in the high art world,” said Alona.

The trio have been working on the exhibition for the last year, and scoured the archives and have unearthed rarely seen works by 12 revered figures like Bruce Davidson and David Goldblatt, along with work by innovators who have been forgotten after their lives were cut tragically short like Ernest Cole and Raghubir Singh.

“We are doing what we feel is a discovery of them, it also brings together some unlikely figures,” said Alona.

“There are layers going on in the show, one is looking at the history of the medium of photography itself, how it flowers as an art form, and on the meta-level it’s looking at the social and political landscape,” she explained.

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“From Soweto in South Africa to Mississippi in America it looks at civil rights and the oppression of racial cultures, that is a big narrative.

“I learnt a lot, you learn about so much the complications of the photography world, there are a lot of photographers who would never call themselves artists, it’s a sensitive area,” she said.

Surprisingly convincing some of the photographers to take part proved a hard task.

“When it comes to something political people can be wary of how their work is being positioned, especially white people curating a show which deals with racial tensions.”

The exhibition will run until January 13 2013.