Jo Spence Memorial Archive – Ryerson Image Centre

Jo Spence (British, 1934−1992) was a pivotal figure in the establishment of a post-modern feminist discourse who challenged the dominance of photography-as-high-art in the context of the museum and the art market. Working in London in the 1970s and 1980s as a community-based activist using photography and text as tools for social change, Spence contested the formalist preoccupations of mainstream photographic practice and emphasized a return to documentary. Among her diverse collaborative projects, she is known for politicized self-representations of her struggle with breast cancer, in which she refuses to passively accept the conventions of medical authority and asserts the validity of alternative therapies. In addition to more than 100 largescale prints, the RIC holds a broad range of Spence’s research and preparatory materials, writings and correspondence, videotaped interviews, and other ephemera. The Jo Spence Memorial Archive was donated to the RIC by the artist’s long-time partner and collaborator, Terry Dennett.

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