I heard about this from my wife, who had heard it mentioned on the radio. Although I did read the summary above before I went, it was still a surprise to me just how big this exhibition is. I can’t comment on how comprehensive it is but it does feature works from a significant number of photographers associated with Magnum since the beginning. The structure is very well done; an introductory display of assorted works from the early days, under the heading “Beginnings” that are linked to the UN universal declaration of human rights. Subsequent rooms then show more works by individual photographers, with each room arranged chronologically and showing works from different decades. The final display is another assortment to mirror the initial display, under the heading “Endings”.
The entire exhibition is mostly concerned with the importance of individual human concerns; any life matters as much as any other, and that there are many different and equally valid lifestyles. I find it hard to pick out individual highlights; several of the works shown have appeared in books I have read as part of this course. Rather than focus on individual photographers or works, my main response is to the exhibition as a whole. There is a further room after the final “Endings” display where you are encouraged to make your own piece out of newspaper or magazines to show your own idea of what the future should be like. I found this very engaging (and did try my own), and helps to further emphasis the focus on humanity as a whole.