Capital City

The Highest Product of Capitalism (After John Heartfield)

Jo Spence

The Highest Product of Capitalism (After John Heartfield)

Vintage Gelatin Silver Print

20.32 x 25.4 cms (7.99 x 9.98 ins)

1979

HC 10374

Provenance

Jo Spence Memorial Archive
Richard Saltoun Gallery, London

Collaboration with Terry Dennett

Stamped on the reverse

The present work is one of Spence and Dennett's most celebrated pictures. It in fact exists in slightly different formats: clearly taken from more than one negative: one complete frontal, the other slightly oblique.

The work itself is a direct transcription of a work by John Heartfield. Its title is the English translation of Heartfiled's title "Spitzenprodukte des kapitalismus" and the text that Spence holds - "I'll take (almost) any work" - is a witty paraphrase of the sign held in Heartfield's picture: "Nehme jede arbeit".

Where the two areas differ is in the games with gender played by Spence. Hearfield's image is a hetrosexual image that serves as a constructed depiction of a bride and groom. Spence, too, similarly stands beside a mannequin in bridal wear, but the fact that she is female complicates this depiction. Similarly, the fact that she wears "male" clothes suggests that she, too, is playing a role, that of a male worker. (On this gendering see Siona Wilson Art Labor, Sex Politics. Feminist Effects in 1970s British Art and Performance, University of Minesota Press, 2015, pp.145-148. Siona reproduces the slightly more oblique version of this work)




British Photography / The Hyman Collection

Jo Spence

The Highest Product of Capitalism (After John Heartfield)

Vintage Gelatin Silver Print

20.32 x 25.4 cms (7.99 x 9.98 ins)

1979

HC 10374

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