Jo Broughton exposes the faces of the recession

Can you spot what I did here?


Jo Broughton at Discourses

Jo Broughton is a fine artist who has established a name as a photographer over the past ten years, with portrait series such as My ex-Boyfriend’s Girlfriends, Virgins and Empty Porn Sets.

You can read about her on her website here, with a biography written by me.

She has begun a new series, recording the the faces of our times, picking up on and extending a tradition of images cataloguing tough economic periods such as the Depression-era work of Dorothea Lange.

An inevitable temporary hiatus in photographic practice during the later stages of her pregnancy and subsequent birth of her son found Jo exploring new mediums and projects, including extraordinary papier-mâché tea sets which were exhibited as part of the Granta magazine Sex Issue launch recently, and sketchbooks full of pen and ink drawings depicting her warm, chaotic, characterful, alarming and true diaries of her adventures as an artist.

Jo Broughton

by Jo Broughton

The Subaltern Voices exhibition marks the return of this incredibly driven artist to photography, and we can only hope that a multi media exhibition could be ahead. The proliferation and diversity of work is ironically owed to the very pregnancy and motherhood that has kept her hands well and truly full this last couple of years – well done baby Sunny and Jo – a great team.

I was very excited to be shot for this series, an inaugural selection of which is currently showing at the Subaltern Voices exhibition at the Drawers Gallery at the Haggerston Arms. But my portrait didn’t make the final show as I looked too rich in the pictures and not at all cowed by the recession.

None of the women who made the cut looked overly cowed in fact; strong looking women one and all. I must have looked positively thriving on it. We will find out soon as I am going to publish the pics on here tomorrow.

I should add that the exhibition also featured works by Isabel Lima, consisting of a video piece of her washing the feet of seekers of asylum in the UK. I wondered how she dealt with the language issue in delivering this artistic intervention. Memories came to mind of practicing TEFL teaching on some asylum seekers in a language school in central London during my training, and one guy in his confusion and stress broke down into tears as he thought my anodyne questions establishing his English language levels were some kind of official assessment of his case, so god knows what they made of having their feet washed by an artist.  Also work by Elvia Vasconcelos and Laurie Waller.

Discourses is openDemocracy’s quarterly series of exhibitions, each of which has a corresponding panel discussion on a contemporary social / cultural issue covering a wide array of topics and themes, from the role of theory in art to financial crises; from subaltern art and representation to architecture and war.

All of these events in the Discourses series are held at the Drawers gallery at the Haggerston Arms, 438 Kingsland Road, London E8 4A

Granta magazine interview with Jo Broughton here.


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