The photography of Jo SPENCE deals with issues of class, power and gender, death and dying. Spence began her career as a commercial photographer, specialising in family portraits and wedding photos. She pushed the medium beyond this narrow subject matter to explore its political function, challenging the social and structural barriers working against female artists of the time. Out of this emerged her collaborations with the Hackney Flashers, a collective of female documentary photographers. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1982, Spence later developed the technique of 'photo therapy,' using photography as a therapeutic tool to document her battle with the disease.
Spence's work has featured in solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including 'Misbehaving Bodies: Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery,' Wellcome Collection, London (2019); Stills Gallery, Edinburgh (2016); 'All Men Become Sisters,' Muzeum Sztuki ms2, Lodz (2015); 'Tate Britain BP Spotlight,' London (2015); 'Not Yet,' Reina Sofia, Madrid (2015); 'Work (Part III): The History Lesson' at White Columns, New York (2013); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007); and 'Beyond the Perfect Image,' MACBA, Barcelona (2005), amongst others. Her work is included in numerous important collections such as: The Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; The Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, UK; MACBA | Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; MOMA | Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA, USA; Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada; Tate Collection, London, UK; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Wellcome Trust, London, UK, amongst many others.