‘Photo Therapy: Infantilization’ was made in collaboration with Rosy Martin. It was a series which she first began in 1984, when she would depict herself wearing a white robe, a baby’s hat and with a soother in her mouth. The 1984 series arose out of her anger at the medical profession, who she felt infantilized her, and left her feeling powerless after her diagnosis with breast cancer.
In this series of 11 photographs, Spence wears a baby’s bib and feed herself baby’s food. Her face is at first quite happy and then it develops into facial expressions of disgust as she eats the pulverised food. This work is a direct exploration of Freud’s oral phase: the initial psychosexual stage of an infant’s development, when they are only focused on oral gratification - a stage which lasts 18 months.
Spence later incorporated Freud’s stages of development in other works, exploring the oral, anal and genital. She said that she could have only had explored these stages with Rosy Martin as her collaborator, as with a male photographer and therapist she would not have felt as safe or accepted. By creating this body of work, Spence moved backwards, looking at events that occurred in her life of which she has no actual memory.
The Estate of Jo Spence
Ribalta, George and Terry Dennett. Beyond the Perfect Image. Photography, Subjectivity, Antagonism. Exhibition catalogue. Barcelona: MACBA, 2005, illus. p353
You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in our emails.
Please enter your details
Checking your information
Please check your email
We have sent you an email with a link to access this page.