Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson)

Jo Spence

London, England, 1934 - 1992

Terry Dennett

Chigwell, England, 1938 - London, England, 2018
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print on paper mounted on cardboard
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Group of twelve photographs grouped in six diptychs
  • Dimensions: 
    Image: 35 x 26 cm
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Multiple artwork

This artwork belongs to a series.

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Jo Spence and Terry Dennett collaborated extensively on numerous social, artistic and photographic projects over nearly two decades. United by a common interest in photography and social and political activism, they began a number of collective projects which today fall within what could be termed “critical post-modernity”. Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson) clearly shows the experience and maturity of the artists’ analytical work in terms of both psychoanalysis and historical materialism. The aim was to question the predominant models of visual representation through a form of ‘photo-theatre’ in which they denatured the genres of western photography and rethought the traditional photographer-model relationship, rewriting the history of photography using the medium itself. This re-categorisation process causes the viewer – by dint of these images in which the two participants use themselves as models – to make new connections and inferences with none of the traditional assumptions and implications concerning the relationship between model and photographer, man and woman, subject and object. As a photographic collective, Spence and Dennett’s starting point was the connection between their interests: Dennett’s previous work as a portrait photographer and historian of photography, and Spence’s interest in gender issues and the visual history of the family.

Concha Calvo Salanova