Tuesday 27 August 2013

Review of Alexis Hunter & Jo Spence at Richard Saltoun

Alexis Hunter & Jo Spence
Richard Saltoun
22 August – 27 September 2013

“We need to use our cameras, tape recorders, diaries, poems, videos – whatever cultural resources we have – to witness our own histories, to learn to protest and share, and to learn to nurture ourselves.”*

When Jo Spence (1934-1992) and Alexis Hunter (born 1948) exhibited together in the 1970s, feminist art was in its heyday and both artists had recently begun to use photography as a means to explore identity, comment upon and criticise society, and bring about change. Spence, herself from a working class background, was particularly interested in exploring cultural and class stereotypes, whilst Hunter immersed herself fully in the women’s movement and produced works questioning gender roles. Inevitably, however, Spence’s work has also been seen, much discussed, and academically pontificated upon from this angle. Both artists use portraiture and self-representation playfully and unsettlingly to tell stories, create narratives, make their viewers cringe, feel shame, feel guilt, and relate – at the level of the id, there is something in each of these artist’s strips of snapshot-style photographs or basic contact sheets where any and every woman can find herself.

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