Aspects of Jo Spence’s legacy: reclaiming representation

As I have written about in a previous post, Jo Spence’s work and legacy has many aspects. One strand I would like to pick up on here is her documentation of illness and medical treatment which calls in to question ownership of and representation of our own bodies.

Of her time in hospital receiving treatment for breast cancer Spence wrote that, “it was impossible to show how I was situated within that as a powerless patient, how I knew so little about my body that I had internalized my subjugation to the medical profession”.[1] Continue reading “Aspects of Jo Spence’s legacy: reclaiming representation”

Stand in Contradiction, Write or be written off: Jo Spence, autobiography and archive

In a letter written before her death in 1992 Jo Spence asked that people celebrate her birthday annually on June 15th. Today to celebrate the lasting impact of her life and work I am posting this article making connections between her inspiring autobiography Putting Myself in the Picture, her desire to take power over her own representation and a library of books which she collected in her lifetime.

Spence’s legacy is not only as a photographer but also as a writer who overcame her fears of revealing her class origins and being “found out” to be able to represent her ideas and tell her own story.

In recent years I have had the privilege to be able to sort through Spence’s considerable library of books and other material which was donated to Birkbeck College’s History and Theory of Photography Research Centre by one of her former collaborator’s, Terry Dennett.[1]

Continue reading “Stand in Contradiction, Write or be written off: Jo Spence, autobiography and archive”