Jo Spence and Simon Watney; ICA, London; 8/11/86

British photographer Jo Spence (1934-1992) was famous for documenting her battle with breast cancer. Spence was engaged in studio photography before founding the left-wing, feminist art collective 'The Hackney Flashers'. As a producer of images, Spence grappled with the placement of female identity, in particular the space between 'representation' and 'actuality'.

Spence was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1981. By 1985, when this recording was made, the artist had turned to her own body as a subject for the exploration of images and politics. Producing a body of work entitled 'A Picture of Health?' (1982-1991) she scrutinized the relationship between doctor and patient and institutional power structures. During this talk she gives an intimate insight into the relationship between photography and identity which is addressed in the publication 'Putting Myself in the Picture'.

Issues of identity, representation, and health are common to both Spence and Watney.

Simon Watney is an art historian, conservationist and activist. He co-founded the Gay Liberation Front group in Brighton in the 1970's and went on to establish a number of charitable trusts dedicated to education and research regarding AIDS. Watney wrote one of the first texts to tackle media representation of the AIDS crisis titled 'Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS, and The Media' (1987) which is currently in its third edition.

He has been head of Contextual Studies at University for the Creative Arts, and Conservation Cases Recorder for the Churches Monument Society, both since 2000.


Accession No. WAA.055
Artist: Jo Spence and Simon Watney
Container annotation: Self Image, photography and representation'
Place/Year: ICA, London 8/11/86
Type: Talk
Release status: CC BY-NC-SA
Technical aspects:
Duration: 01:33:26
Tape capacity: 90'
Tape brand: TDK