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History and Theory of Photography Research Centre

Upcoming events

The History and Theory of Photography Research Centre runs a busy schedule of events. See below for forthcoming activities, you can also take a look at our recent events here.

6 February 2018, 6:00-7:30pm: The Touch of Light: Bruce Nauman’s Holograms Elizabeth Johnson (Associate Research Fellow, Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology)

Where? Keynes Library (room 114)
When? 6-7:30pm

In 1968, less than a year after it first became possible to produce holograms of people, Bruce Nauman began to work on two series of holographic self-portraits. Nauman made these luminous, intangible, three-dimensional images of his body during a period in art’s history that is closely associated with the notion of dematerialisation. This paper uses Nauman’s holograms to interrogate the significance of materiality and tangibility in Anglo-American sculptural aesthetics at the end of the 1960s. Although the holograms can be aligned with the apparent move towards the dematerialisation of the sculptural object, this paper shows how their subsequent reception has been shaped by their particular materiality. Ultimately, it argues that Nauman’s holograms hold in suspension a commitment to both the values of modern sculpture and a negation of sculptural corporeality.

9 March – 28 April 2018: Cultural Sniping: Photographic Collaborations in the Jo Spence Memorial Library Archive

9 March – 28 April 2018 in the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

This exhibition showcases important materials from the archive of the late Jo Spence, British photographer, writer, and self-described 'cultural sniper', tracing links and collaborations in activist art, radical publications, community photography and phototherapy from the 1970s and 1980s. Consistent with Spence's ethos of radical pedagogy, this exhibition focuses on her collaborative working methods. It opens up the archive, displaying books, magazines, journals, collages, photographs, posters, pamphlets, notes, letters and props, to provide insights into Spence's practices and the culture, politics and activism informing them. Screenings and workshops will run alongside the exhibition.

On display are works made in association with Spence's collaborators, including Terry Dennett and Rosy Martin. Materials from the Photography Workshop community project to the Polysnappers, the group she worked with while a mature student, show how they used photography to interrogate dominant representations of labour, class, race, gender and sexuality, developing a praxis of political and social change through education. Life-long learning was crucial to Spence, who encouraged others to engage in visual critiques and consciousness-raising projects based on their own life experiences. She and Martin pioneered the practice of phototherapy, working through themes of working-class identity and stigmatisation, sexuality, grief and illness, using photography in an empowering and transformative way.

Curated by Patrizia Di Bello, Frances Hatherley, and a group of Birkbeck students. Supported by a grant from Birkbeck Alumni Fund. Part of Birkbeck's Opening up Art History 50th anniversary celebrations.

Keep an eye on the exhibition page for more information!