[spectre] Fwd: Jo Spence at Studio Voltaire and SPACE, London

Andreas Broeckmann broeckmann at leuphana.de
Wed May 30 08:54:41 CEST 2012

[recommended! -ab]

Betreff: 	Jo Spence at Studio Voltaire and SPACE, London
Datum: 	Tue, 29 May 2012 16:00:08 -0400
Von: 	e-flux <info at mailer.e-flux.com>

*/Jo Spence: Work (Part I)
/*1 June–15 July 2012
*Preview:* Thursday 31 May, 6–9pm
*129–131 Mare Street, London E8 3RH
Hours: Monday–Friday, 10–5pm
Saturday and Sunday, 12–6pm

*/Jo Spence: Work (Part II)
/*13 June–11 August 2012
*Preview:* Monday 11 June, 6:30–8:30pm

*Studio Voltaire
*1a Nelsons Row, London SW4 7JR
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 12–6pm


Jo Spence (1934–1992) emerged as a key figure in the mid 1970s from the
British photographic left, crucial in debates on photography and the
critique of representation. Her work engaged with a range of
photographic genres, from documentary to photo therapy, and responded to 
the prioritisation from the late 1970s onwards of lens-based media in 
art-critical discourse.

Rough edged, recycled, personal—in essence /positively/ amateur,
Spence’s work stands in direct opposition to numerous artistic givens.
She proposed process over object, collaboration and collectivity over
heroic authorship and, above all, generosity (to self and other) over
the pursuit of any singular creative ambition. While adroit with its
arguments, she swerved the academic theorisation of photography,
preferring an experimental and biographical exploration of ideas. This
results in a richly didactic yet highly idiosyncratic output, one that
is playful, silly even at times, while also being capable of delivering
images of excoriating intensity.

Spence held the firm belief that photography has an empowering capacity
when applied to complex issues of class, power, gender, health, and
body. From this perspective she rallied against all forms of hegemony,
dominance, and control. Her critical concerns, be they with the idea of
naturalism in the documentary image or National Health Service protocol, 
became the primary productive principal for her output, drawing her into 
action—variably as an artist, writer, activist, community leader, adult 
educator, and patient.

While a prevailing wind of cultural pessimism might propose Spence’s
work as specifically periodic, to those who know it, and to those
who—through this exhibition—will come to know it, it is clear that she
has much to offer contemporary audiences. Her work is best described as
a sort of energetic, one that is constantly agitating, asking the wrong
questions, and pushing against things. It is no wonder that Spence was
never quite at ease with the title ‘artist.’ Instead she had a
preference—one linked both to the behavioural condition of the
photographer, but also to the nature of her critical enterprise in
general—that of ‘cultural sniper.’

On the twentieth anniversary of her death, /Jo Spence Work (Part I and
Part II)/ offers an important opportunity to experience a significant
presentation of the photographer’s practice first hand. In doing so, we
hope the exhibition allows for a recognition of the relevance of her
work and working methods, both of which remain as sharply radical and
transformative today as they were over two decades ago.

The exhibition is chronologically split across the two sites: SPACE’s
presentation will focus on Spence’s work from the late 1960s to the
early 1980s and will explore the explicitly social and political
dimensions of her early solo and collaborative work. Studio Voltaire
will present later works from the early 1980s up to the artist’s death
in 1992. The latter works broadly deal with issues of health, therapy,
self-empowerment, and mortality.

In recent years, her practice has received attention with retrospectives 
of Spence’s work at MACBA, Barcelona (2005) and Camera Austria, Graz 
(2006), and her inclusion in Documenta 12 (2007). Her work is 
represented in international public collections including MACBA, 
Barcelona; GOMA, Glasgow; Ryerson Image Centre, Canada; Museo Nacional 
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

As an integral part of the project, Studio Voltaire has launched /NOT
OUR CLASS/. This new long-term programme of education and participatory
projects takes the work of Jo Spence as a starting point for
investigating the legacy and potentials of her work in relation to
contemporary culture and life. Through a series of commissions, offsite
projects, workshops, public events, and reading groups situated both
within Studio Voltaire’s neighbourhood and contemporary art discourse
the programme will explore the new turn towards education and
participation within contemporary art practice. The programme will
include new commissions by artists Emma Hedditch, Marysia Lewandowska,
and Rehana Zaman, working with The Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Lambeth
Women’s Project, Intoart, King’s College Hospital, and Body & Soul.

The exhibition is made in partnership with Terry Dennett/The Jo Spence
Memorial Archive.
Supported by the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation and The Andy Warhol
Foundation for Visual Arts.
With kind assistance from Richard Saltoun, who represents the Estate of
Jo Spence.
NOT OUR CLASS, Studio Voltaire’s associated Education and
Participation Programme, is supported by Bloomberg and by the National
Lottery through Arts Council England.

x-posted from http://www.e-flux.com

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