This exhibition showcases important materials from the archive of the late Jo Spence, British photographer, writer, and self-described ‘cultural sniper’, tracing links and collaborations in activist art, radical publications, community photography and phototherapy from the 1970s and 1980s. Consistent with Spence’s ethos of radical pedagogy, this exhibition focuses on her collaborative working methods. It opens up the archive, displaying books, magazines, journals, collages, photographs, posters, pamphlets, notes, letters and props, to provide insights into Spence’s practices and the culture, politics and activism informing them. Screenings and workshops will run alongside the exhibition.
On display are works made in association with Spence’s collaborators, including Terry Dennett and Rosy Martin. Materials from the Photography Workshop community project to the Polysnappers, the group she worked with while a mature student, show how they used photography to interrogate dominant representations of labour, class, race, gender and sexuality, developing a praxis of political and social change through education. Life-long learning was crucial to Spence, who encouraged others to engage in visual critiques and consciousness-raising projects based on their own life experiences. She and Martin pioneered the practice of phototherapy, working through themes of working-class identity and stigmatisation, sexuality, grief and illness, using photography in an empowering and transformative way.
Curated by Patrizia Di Bello, Frances Hatherley, and a group of Birkbeck students. Supported by a grant from Birkbeck Alumni Fund. Part of Birkbeck’s Opening up Art History 50th anniversary celebrations.
9th March 2018- Private viewing and reception 6-8:00pm. Reserve your free place. All Welcome!
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