Exit Photography Group
07.11.2018 – 03.03.2019
Curator: Valentín Roma
Opening: Tuesday 6th November, 7 pm
Free guided tours (from November 13th): Tuesday at 6.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday at noon
Guided tours by Valentín Roma: February 6th, 6.30 pm
For the first time in Spain, this exhibition presents, in full, Survival Programmes: In Britain’s Inner Cities, the emblematic work by the Exit Photography Group – Nicholas Battye, Chris Steele-Perkins and Paul Trevor. Carried out between 1974 and 1979, this work documents the impoverishment of the working classes in seven of the United Kingdom’s inner cities.
Carried out between 1974 and 1979, though published as a book in 1982 and shown at the Side Gallery that same year, Survival Programmes documents the impoverishment of the working classes of seven of Britain’s inner cities: London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Glasgow and Belfast.
It was initially conceived on the basis of two parallel but independent accounts arranged in four parts – Growth, Promise, Welfare and Reaction – and a series of dialogues with people who came from the socio-economic contexts being explored.
The effects of unemployment, precarisation, the Northern Ireland conflict and racial tension created a state of ‘ungovernability’ in the United Kingdom which reached its peak with the ‘Winter of Discontent’ of 1978 to 1979. Following this period in which the friction between the working and middle classes and Labour intellectualism made itself felt, came the long period of Thatcherism, neoliberal privatisation of industry and services and exaltation of patriotic, Victorian and individualist values – in other words, the unstoppable process of dismantling the Social Contract that had emerged after the post-war years.
This is the socio-political context depicted in Survival Programmes. The work of the Exit Photography Group is part of a network of self-organised initiatives that drove the development of a politicised documentary photographic culture in Great Britain throughout the seventies. Among them, we can single out the Photographer’s Gallery (1971) and the Half Moon Gallery – the latter run by Jo Spence and Terry Dennett from 1975, one year after they founded the Photography Group –, the magazine Camerawork and the Side Gallery (1977). These ventures benefited from public funding through the Photography Subcommittee of the Arts Council, which was fundamental in the institutionalisation and democratisation of British photographic production in the period leading up to Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.