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Community Photography in the 1970s

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Four Corners

121 Roman Road

London

E2 0QN

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Our central concern in photography is not ‘Is it art?’ but, ‘Who is it for?’

Jo Spence, ‘The Politics of Photography’, Camerawork Issue 1 (1976)


In her famous 1976 article first published in Camerawork magazine, Jo Spence articulated an emerging concept: community photography. Working against the power relations inherent in the medium, community photographers sought to provide an alternative to stereotyped, mass-produced images, fed to consumers by a small elite. Photography could instead be used as a tool for social change, enabling people to gain autonomy in the representation of their own lives.

But how did community photography work in practice?

Join us for a lively discussion with Judy Harrison, Janine Wiedel and Philip Wolmouth, three documentary photographers whose work engages with issues of community and representation.


Judy Harrison is a photographic artist, writer, curator and lecturer. Her work is held in collections including the V & A, London and West Midlands Arts. She was Founder and Director of Mount Pleasant Photography Workshop, Southampton, a significant community photography organisation, from 1977 - 1992. She was a leading member of FORMAT Women’s Picture Agency from 1984 - 2003 and has been a contributing member of Photofusion Picture Library since 2003. She is a Principal Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, and is currently working on projects around areas of migration, journeys and personal histories within photography.

Janine Wiedel is an American documentary photographer and visual anthropologist based in London who has been covering issues of social concern since the late 1960s. Her career has mainly focused on groups struggling to survive on the edges of mainstream society. These projects have become major studies, books and exhibitions, and have fed into Wiedel’s extensive archive and photolibrary which contains a unique collection of stock images covering a wide range of social issues including: education, protest, youth, alternative lifestyles, multicultural communities, drugs and social exclusion.

Philip Wolmuth is a photojournalist and writer. He has reported extensively on social, economic and political issues in Britain and abroad. In 1976 he set up Photoworks Westminster (formerly North Paddington Community Darkroom), a pioneering community photography project. The project was influential in the community photography movement of the 1970s which saw a convergence of political and artistic concerns whilst drawing on the economic and political upheavals of the decade.

This event is part of our current exhibition Radical Visions: the early history of Four Corners and Camerawork 1972 - 1985

Discover more about community photography and Camerawork magazine at Four Corners Archive

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Four Corners

121 Roman Road

London

E2 0QN

United Kingdom

View Map

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