Curated by British photographer Martin Parr and designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects Witherford Watson Mann, the Barbican’s current exhibition, ‘Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by international photographers’, includes works by some of the most prominent photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Candida Höfer, Shinro Ohtake and Edith Tudor-Hart.
Laid out over two floors, the gallery rooms are given focus by a 35 metre long central hall. The hall houses a generous reading room that runs the full length and height of the gallery space, showcasing an extensive photo book selection.
By imagining the space like a library, Witherford Watson Mann’s design responds to the large number of individual photographers on display, the strictly chronological organisation of the work, the repetitive spatial structure of the gallery, and the origin of many of the works in picture periodicals and photo books.
Four additional gallery rooms have been created at the lower level, with specially modified lighting to maintain a sense of intimacy. These carefully designed spaces give the exhibition the structure and atmosphere of a library, connecting the diverse cultural backgrounds of the 23 photographers shown.
The Barbican exhibition is one of several gallery spaces conceived by Witherford Watson Mann, including the design for the Curve Gallery at the Barbican and the John James Audubon gallery at the New York Historical Society Museum.
Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers
Until 19 June 2016