This appeared in FAN, Feminist Art News, in an edition called 'Working-class women working it out!', vol. 3, no. 6, 1991. Jo had been one of those who pushed for an edition on that theme. Finally she was too unwell to be at the launch at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, but got reports of it from Julia Tant, Valerie Walkerdine and me. One of the guest co-editors, Gabrielle Humphreys-Power, had attended Jo's workshop on class, gender and identity at the Photo Co-op, May 1990.
How are splintered subjectivities represented within cultural production? Where is it possible to begin to speak of such confusion?
In my family we had little connection to 'art' except perhaps my dad's exquisitely funny poetry (rather more limerick than lyric), and a reproduction of Franz Hals's Laughing Cavalier, proudly framed in black oak with gold inlay to match the table and chairs. Given this as a background, it is hardly surprising that it took me until the age of 55 to finally say that 'Yes, perhaps sometimes my work is Art'. By what criteria has it been judged up to now? Why the silence around artworks that try to deal with class/power relationships? Or use humour? Why do some of us still have to plead to be taken seriously as working-class artists? In view of our histories of exclusion or Otherness, many of us feel (yet again) that we just don't exist. What role models exist for working-class women to become artists or cultural workers? Even more important, given the post-structuralist climate, what hope for us to be able to get validation from curators, critics and theoreticians whilst still wishing to identify ourselves with (and being understood by) our own class?
Class and education…working-class artist I feel I have an obligation to offer something back to my own group; to help other women (and men) to
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Publication information: Book title: Cultural Sniping: The Art of Transgression. Contributors: Jo Stanley - Editor, David Hevey - Editor, Jo Spence - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 202.
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