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Who's Holding the Baby?

  • Authors: 
    Hackney Flashers Collective (An Dekker; Sally Greenhill; Liz Heron; Michael Ann Mullen; Maggie Murray; Christine Roche; Jo Spence; Julia Vellacott)
  • Date: 
    1978 / Later print, circa 1980
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print, ink, typing, photomechanical print and collage on paper and cardboard
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Group consisting of twenty-three panels with photographs, illustrations and texts. The 1978 original version consisted of twenty-nine panels.
  • Dimensions: 
    Each part: 77 x 51,5 cm
  • Category: 
    Photography
  • Entry date: 
    2010
  • Register number: 
    AD06161
The Hackney Flashers Collective was formed in 1974. Its first exhibition, Women and Work (1975), used documentary photography with explanatory text. The second exhibition, Who’s Holding the Baby? (1978), arose from a critical evaluation of Women and Work, in particular the omission from this exhibition of the crucial importance of childcare provision in the lives of working women. There was then, as now, little publicly funded childcare in Britain.The lives of working women had provided a suitable subject for documentary photographs. The absence of childcare facilities, however, did not. Who’s Holding the Baby? aimed to explore the need for childcare provision and the repercussions of its absence on mothers, children and the wider society. It addressed complex ideas about women’s roles as mothers and as workers inside and outside the home. This required the use of additional tools: illustration, collage using advertising imagery and graphics.This feminist critique was intended as an agitprop (agitation propaganda) tool to be deployed in a range of settings, among them women’s liberation conferences, trade union meetings, libraries and institutions concerned with social policy. The work positions itself between photojournalistic and conceptual art practices.Throughout its period of activism, from 1974 to 1980, some twenty members were involved in the Hackney Flashers Collective. Those who produced Who’s Holding the Baby? were An Dekker, Sally Greenhill, Liz Heron, Michael Ann Mullen, Maggie Murray, Christine Roche, Jo Spence and Julia Vellacott. The original exhibition of Who’s Holding the Baby? consisted of twenty-nine panels. The Museo Reina Sofía holds a later version with twenty-three panels.

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