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Jo Spence Memorial Archive

Jo Spence (British, 1934−1992) was a pivotal figure in the establishment of a post-modern feminist discourse who challenged the dominance of photography-as-high-art in the context of the museum and the art market. Working in London in the 1970s and 1980s as a community-based activist using photography and text as tools for social change, Spence contested the formalist preoccupations of mainstream photographic practice and emphasized a return to documentary. Among her diverse collaborative projects, she is known for politicized self-representations of her struggle with breast cancer, in which she refuses to passively accept the conventions of medical authority and asserts the validity of alternative therapies. In addition to more than 100 largescale prints, the RIC holds a broad range of Spence’s research and preparatory materials, writings and correspondence, videotaped interviews, and other ephemera. The Jo Spence Memorial Archive was donated to the RIC by the artist’s long-time partner and collaborator, Terry Dennett.

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A series of negatives of people posing.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), The highest product of capitalism (after John Heartfield). From Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0001)

Contact sheet called 'Adventure Playground' from 1975.
Fig.

Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), [Adventure Playground, contact sheet], ca. 1975, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0002)

A series of pictures of faces and masks of faces from a print work book from 1977.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Faces Group, [Faces Group, Lyn], ca. 1977, gelatin silver print work book. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0003)

Photo of a woman with no shirt standing in a doorway holding a broom.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Colonization. From Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0001)

The backside of a nude person standing in an electrical field.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0002)

Nude person laying on the ground next to a car with open doors in front of a gated road.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0003)

Man with silly glasses and a silly expression reading a book by Freud.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0004)

Nude photos of body in a 'Body Mind Journal' from 1989.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Body Mind Journal, 1989, chromogenic prints. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3000:0001)

Fig.
Scrapbook with pastel drawing on cover from 1985.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), [Scrapbook], ca. 1985, pastel drawing. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3000:0002)

Negatives of series work taking pictures of Barbie dolls from 1982.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), [Work with Barbies], ca. 1982, colour transparency. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3000:0003)
Series of portraits of mother.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Photo Therapy: My Mother ca. 1952 (with Rosy Martin), 1985, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3001:0001)

Photo of woman in towel pouring salt from a bag over her head onto her face with an open mouth.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Rosy Martin, and Rick Miller, Photo Therapy: Work on Emotional Eating (with Rosy Martin), ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0001)

Photo of woman soaked in red substance covering her face.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Rosy Martin, and Rick Miller, From Libido Uprising (with Rosy Martin), ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0002)

Photo of woman slicing bread at a table.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Rosy Martin, and Rick Miller, Photo Therapy: Early Mother (with Rosy Martin), ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0003)

Woman dressed up as a fairy godmother.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Rick Miller, [Fairy God Mother/Business Card], ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0004)

Photo of a vacuum hose wrapped around a woman's leg wearing fishnet stockings and orange heels.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Rosy Martin, [Leg with red high heel and vacume hose], From Libido Uprising (with Rosy Martin), 1994, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5002:0001)
Jo Spence posing with no shirt and wearing a helmet.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Maggie Murray, [Spence wearing a helmet]. From The Picture of Health (with Maggie Murray), 1994, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5002:0002)
Photo of a woman in a towel with an 'x' over her right breast.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Maggie Murray, [From the Picture of Health], 2010, inkjet print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5003:0001)
Two boys holding chickens up to each other as a young boy looks on.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), [From Gypsies and Travellers], 1974, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2015.2001:0001)

Photo of a swing with two horses on a hill in the background.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), [From Gypsies and Travellers], 1974, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2015.2001:0002)

A series of negatives of people posing.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), The highest product of capitalism (after John Heartfield). From Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0001)

Contact sheet called 'Adventure Playground' from 1975.
Fig.

Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), [Adventure Playground, contact sheet], ca. 1975, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0002)

A series of pictures of faces and masks of faces from a print work book from 1977.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Faces Group, [Faces Group, Lyn], ca. 1977, gelatin silver print work book. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0003)

Photo of a woman with no shirt standing in a doorway holding a broom.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Colonization. From Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0001)

The backside of a nude person standing in an electrical field.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0002)

Nude person laying on the ground next to a car with open doors in front of a gated road.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0003)

Man with silly glasses and a silly expression reading a book by Freud.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2017:0004)

Nude photos of body in a 'Body Mind Journal' from 1989.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Body Mind Journal, 1989, chromogenic prints. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3000:0001)

Fig.
Scrapbook with pastel drawing on cover from 1985.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), [Scrapbook], ca. 1985, pastel drawing. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3000:0002)

Negatives of series work taking pictures of Barbie dolls from 1982.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), [Work with Barbies], ca. 1982, colour transparency. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3000:0003)
Series of portraits of mother.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Photo Therapy: My Mother ca. 1952 (with Rosy Martin), 1985, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.3001:0001)

Photo of woman in towel pouring salt from a bag over her head onto her face with an open mouth.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Rosy Martin, and Rick Miller, Photo Therapy: Work on Emotional Eating (with Rosy Martin), ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0001)

Photo of woman soaked in red substance covering her face.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Rosy Martin, and Rick Miller, From Libido Uprising (with Rosy Martin), ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0002)

Photo of woman slicing bread at a table.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992), Rosy Martin, and Rick Miller, Photo Therapy: Early Mother (with Rosy Martin), ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0003)

Woman dressed up as a fairy godmother.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Rick Miller, [Fairy God Mother/Business Card], ca. 1990, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5001:0004)

Photo of a vacuum hose wrapped around a woman's leg wearing fishnet stockings and orange heels.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Rosy Martin, [Leg with red high heel and vacume hose], From Libido Uprising (with Rosy Martin), 1994, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5002:0001)
Jo Spence posing with no shirt and wearing a helmet.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Maggie Murray, [Spence wearing a helmet]. From The Picture of Health (with Maggie Murray), 1994, chromogenic colour print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5002:0002)
Photo of a woman in a towel with an 'x' over her right breast.
Fig. Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Maggie Murray, [From the Picture of Health], 2010, inkjet print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.5003:0001)
Two boys holding chickens up to each other as a young boy looks on.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), [From Gypsies and Travellers], 1974, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2015.2001:0001)

Photo of a swing with two horses on a hill in the background.
Fig.

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), [From Gypsies and Travellers], 1974, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2015.2001:0002)