It's 1962 and The Independent's photo-history of the 20th-century continues with the help of the Hulton Getty Picture Collection.

Britain's post-war drive towards modernity continued to gather momentum in the early Sixties. Whether their inhabitants liked them or not, tower blocks, such as the one pictured in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, were seen as the solution to the near-slum conditions prevalent in the poorer central districts of many of Britain's cities.

The year's Budget bore witness to the Conservative government's attempts to seduce the country. Unashamedly courting consumer approval, Selwyn Lloyd, the Chancellor, cut purchase tax on cars by 10 per cent and promised similar reductions in taxation on the most desirable consumer durables: TV sets, refrigerators and washing machines. It hadn't escaped a disgruntled electorate's attention that they were being asked to partly underwrite the boom in the high street, in the form of pay restraints.

October's Cuban missile crisis forced countries across the world to put their domestic problems aside for a week and consider the likelihood of nuclear annihilation. President Kennedy's response to the news that Cuba was playing host to Russian missile bases was immediate: a naval blockade and the implied threat of imminent invasion.

The proximity of the Caribbean island to the American mainland, the obvious motivation behind America's aggressive stance, handed Kennedy the advantage. Cuba was close enough for continuous reconnaissance and the rapid mobilisation of naval forces. However, American strategists were wary of provoking an extreme Soviet retaliation or of making untenable the Russian premier's position and handing power to even more hostile factions. A week of feverish negotiations produced a carefully structured retreat from nuclear conflict, in which the assertion of American supremacy was not won at the cost of Soviet pride.

In the current exhibition In-dependence, Pervaiz Khan and Felix de Rooy explore questions of memory, power and displacement in their installation. A website, www.imn.ac.uk/arts/gallery, links contemporary artists in Britain to those working in India Photo 98 is a series of high-profile national events and exhibitions. For information, contact 01484 559 888 or visit www.photo98.com

Mike Higgins

Comments