It’s not the photograph of the ‘Afghan Girl’ that grabs your attention as you set foot inside the Steve McCurry retrospective at Birmingham’s Waterhall Gallery – you will already have seen the image plastered on numerous billboards round the city, or on the leaflets and publicity material promoting the event. You will certainly not have failed to notice it on the huge banner hanging outside the exhibition hall. No: it’s less this individual image, striking though it is, more the realisation that there are dozens of photographs of a similar intensity hanging alongside it. Magnum photojournalist Steve McCurry has spent the last thirty years or so capturing such images from areas of international and civil conflict around the world; much of it focussed on the human consequences of war. There are photographs in the exhibition, then, from Afghanistan, Tibet, Iraq and Cambodia and through them all, whether it’s fisherman in Sri Lanka, or monks on the steps of a huge shattered pagoda incongruously merged into the towering mountainside, runs this intense focus on the human condition.
The free exhibition runs until 17th October 2010 at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Waterhall.