The Body Politic: Re-Presentations of Sexuality

Mother and Daughter. © Diana Block,1986. Private view card front cover, The Body Politic: Re-Presentations of Sexuality, 1987

The Body Politic: Re-Presentations of Sexuality

On Photography

04 July - 05 September 1987 


In 1987 The Photographers’ Gallery collaborated with the quarterly magazine Ten.8 on an exhibition entitled The Body Politic. Artists and photographers in the exhibition included Emily Anderson, Diana Blok, Helen Chadwick, John Coplans, Roberta Graham, Sunil Gupta, Barbara Kruger, David Roberts, Hiro Sato and Jo Spence. Below is an extract from the introduction to the exhibition in Ten.8, Issue 25 (a full copy can be found in the V&A, National Art Library).

There is politic in every conversation we have, every deal we close and every face we kiss.

Barbara Kruger

This issue presents another collaboration between Ten.8 and The Photographers’ Gallery: both organisations pooled resources in 1985 to produce the double issue Black Image/Styling On. The Body Politic is a further departure, because it acts both as a regular issue of Ten.8 and specifically as a catalogue for the exhibition The Body Politic to be held at The Photographers’ Gallery London from the 4 July – 5 September 1987 and thereafter on tour to Impressions Gallery York, 24 October – 4 December and the Triangle Media Centre, Birmingham from 1 February – 14 March 1988 (other venue to be confirmed at the time of publication).

The articles published here focus particularly on work within the exhibition (with the exception of Anthea Noggle) but also extend and reflect the current debates around representation and sexuality. It is hoped that future issues will open up further discourse in this area.

Originally, The Body Politic was conceived as a show of commissioned work to examine ways of re-presenting sexuality. Ultimately Emily Anderson, Helen Chadwick, Sunil Gupta and Jo Spence received commissions to initiate new work and another seven photographers/artists were invited to present recent works in progress for the show. Barbara Kruger’s work is included as a quasi-historical reference, since it dates from the early 1980s.

Much theoretical writing has outlined how our identities are social constructs, formed by gender, familial and sexual choices. This exhibition, in one sense is an eclectic gathering point. The artists/ photographers seen here act as interventionists. They bridge theoretical debates in visual form; they intercept stereotypes, attacking process whereby generalized fixed assumptions are made. They invite us to collude with their antagonism against the status quo. However, their use of what could be seen as a limited subject matter – the body – differs widely ... 

Written by Alex Noble, April 1987. Ten.8 magazine, issue 25

Featuring work by Emily Andersen, Diana Blok, John Coplans, Andy Golding, Roberta Graham, Sunil Gupta, Barbara Kruger, Rosy Martin, David Roberts, Hiro Sato, Jo Spence, Mitra Tabrizian, Susan Trangmar, Helen Chadwick & Ken Hollings.

For further details on our past programme, 
visit our Archive and Study Room.