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An exhibition drawing together the work of photographers from around the world during two turbulent decades of the last century is being staged at The Barbican in central London.

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The collection, called Everything Was Moving, explores themes ranging from the Soviet Union to post-colonial India. It focuses on photographers who have contributed to the development of the art form through their work.

Comprising more than 350 shots, it aims to encapsulate the development of photography in the period, and provide an opportunity to catch a glimpse of pictures never previously displayed.

Kate Bush, the Barbican’s head of art galleries, said: “I am delighted to bring together an amazing group of photographers whose striking and powerful images of the 1960s and 1970s make us look at the world again.

“Everything Was Moving explores a spectrum of different photographic approaches, and asks if, in the early 21st century, we are finally prepared to erase the distinction between art photography and documentary photography.”

Among those featured is South African apartheid-era photographer Ernest Cole, who died in 1990. Throughout his early career he was forced to overcome opposition from the Race Classification Board, at a time when many black photographers were imprisoned or persecuted. But his tenacity and courage meant he was one of the few black artists to chronicle this remarkable period in South Africa’s history.

The collection will also feature work from other photographers, ranging from Bruce Davidson’s shots of a journey through the American Deep South to Liz Zhensheng’s portfolio assembled during a period working for a newspaper in north east China during the Cultural Revolution.

The exhibition opens at the Barbican tomorrow (Thursday) and runs until January 13.

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