Another Kind of Life – Photography on the Margins

Barbican, 28 February – 27 May, London

The Barbican brings us sex, drugs and rock’n’roll with images of Mexican prostitutes, surly bikers, wandering dwarfs, homeless teens, sleazy streets and tattooed gangsters.

Its latest photography exhibition, Another Kind of Life, proudly celebrates a worldwide representation of outsiders, political engagement and gender exploration. The show features 20 international photographers who chose to take a walk on the wild side to remind us that art can have a central part in championing individual rights and challenging inequalities and conformity. Alongside iconic images by Diane Arbus, series by Larry Clark, Bruce Davidson, Daido Moriyama and Mary Allen Mark are also on display.

I will keep things simple: go and see this show. Now. It is an amazing array of thoughtful, provocative, unusual and very often moving images that should not be missed. This show will leave you with a sudden envy to jump on the back of a Harley and ride off into the sunset with a long-haired guy called Jake or maybe Wild Bill. It will make you want to visit Tokyo and get lost in its less salubrious streets before having a salamander tattooed across your heart while drinking warm Sake. It might even make you want to wear heavy foundation, a blue slip dress and call yourself Jane, especially if you usually drive a van and support West Ham. It will make you feel like a voyeur and even a little perverse once you step away from the gloom of the Barbican and back into the bright(ish) streets and reality slowly sets back in. It will definitely mess with your brain. But it will remind you that no matter how confused and regressive the times we live in, freedom has pretty much always tasted better than repression.