NOT OUR CLASS
Copyright Jo Spence Memorial Archive
Since Autumn 2011 Studio Voltaire has been running Not Our Class, a new programme of education and participatory projects that through research and practice take 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 explores the new turn towards education and participation within contemporary art practice.
Jo Spence (1934 – 1992) was a key figure on the UK photographic scene from the mid seventies and crucial in debates on photography and the critique of representation. Her work engaged with a range of photographic genres, from documentary to Phototherapy. Through her own artistic practice and teaching, which are very closely linked, she rigorously explored complex issues of class, gender, health and the body, combining personal experience, political understanding and critical theory. The work produced near the end of her life dealt directly with her experience of having cancer and the treatment she received by the medical establishment.
The programme includes new commissions by artists Marysia Lewandowska working with The Jo Spence Memorial Archive, and Rehana Zaman, working with King’s College Hospital and Body & Soul. Additionally Mystique Holloway, Ego Ahaiwe, Louise Shelley, Gina Nembhard, Emma Hedditch, Lauren Craig, Yula Burin and Zoe Holloway have set up the research group X Marks The Spot based at Lambeth Women’s Project. Workshops also took place between artist Conal McStravick and Intoart. Running parallel to these projects and open to all is a series of reading groups in collaboration with Claire de Rouen Books, read more...
During 2013 Not Our Class will be working with Berlin based artist Judith Hopf to develop new work in response to the practice of Jo spence and the approaches of the Not Our Class programme.
Hopf plans to pick up questions around class conflict present in the work of Spence – more specifically the aesthetics of class. For both Spence and Hopf it is important to align the work’s investigations with the stance that the ‘personal is political’.
Download Not Our Class issue #1 - a newsletter/reader publication published in May 2012 to profile the work done during the first phase of Not Our Class here.
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Not Our Class is supported by Bloomberg and by the National lottery through Arts Council England.
The exhibition is made in partnership with The Jo Spence Memorial Archive and is supported by The Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts