We’re always a little wary of photojournalism exhibitions. They’re quite often unremittingly bleak – a fairly one-sided viewpoint on human misery, dictated by salivating newspaper editors (
“Can you just get a few more women weeping into shot? Brilliant!”).
Ian Berry’s new exhibition, at the reliably great International Slavery Museum, is a little different. First visiting South Africa when he was 17, Berry spent many years there working as a photojournalist and documenting the country’s struggles. His work’s appeared in the Daily Mail, the Observer and – rather amazingly – his Sharpeville massacre images taken in 1960 were used to prove victims’ innocence in the ensuing trial.
It’s Berry’s eye for people that sets him apart from his contemporaries, though. His freshly-opened exhibition, featuring 90 images, is both moving and intriguing: rather than capturing endless spools of desolation, Berry balances his stark imagery with pictures of humans experiencing the full spectrum of emotion. Despair, sadness, and elation in equal measures. Unlike many of his peers, Berry has an innate understanding that, beneath misery and oppression, the primal ability to laugh and find joy in the smallest things can never die.
Living Apart: Photographs of Apartheid by Ian Berry
Until 6th November
International Slavery Museum, Liverpool
Images © Ian Berry/Magnum Photos
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