Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jo Spence: Work (Part I)

The rather proletarian title has a double meaning--an introduction to the work of the late photographer and a hint as to her interests and is half of a two-part exhibit (the other in Studio Voltaire) that marks the 20th anniversary of her death.

It's a bit of an unwieldy beast, with a slide show, lengthy texts lining the walls and precious few prints of Jo Spence's work. In light of the current wave of feminist responses to pop culture and commentary (Bitch, Bust, Vagenda), it's interesting to note Spence's witty, feisty ripostes to everyday sexism and injustice, whether depicting her relationship with her mother, noting the absence of childcare for working women or grotesque adverts for "female" products.

The Hackney setting is also appropriate for a member of Hackney Flashers photography group, which had a socialist outlook and politicised raison d'etre. While Spence became best known for her self-portraits depicting her struggle with cancer, this exhibit gives more space to her external interests.

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