art, Author: Eileen E., feminist art, photography

Women in the Workplace in Caroline Russell’s ‘corp.’

Caroline Russell is a Washington, D.C. artist exploring feminist issues while pushing the boundaries of the materiality of photographs. Her latest project, corp. explores how young women are hypersexualised in the workplace. Inspired by her experience at a summer job in college, when a coworker told her that her appearance was “distracting the men,” Russell was moved to investigate this sexist attitude through her art. corp. is an experiment that coalesces pornographic images with stereotypes of women in the workplace. The resulting series is confrontational and hauntingly beautiful.

Through the use of mixed media – photography printed on shards of glass and experimental video performance – Russell examines archetypal images of working women: ‘sexy’ secretaries, assistants, and receptionists. The photographs appear dated, drenched in sepia tones and soft black and white; this vintage feeling in a contemporary space recalls how hypersexualising working women is an antiquated practice, and yet remains a prevailing attitude in the modern day. Pressed against shards of glass, these women are trapped under the male gaze, and perhaps the proverbial glass ceiling.


 For this project, Russell created a new, modern process of transferring negatives onto shards of glass.


                                                                                                                         From Russell: “It began with the exploration of women’s work clothes and soon expanded to the idea of young women beginning their career … [corp.] addresses the over-sexualisation of young, working women as well as the anger and frustration they face.”



                                                                                                                                        Russell, continued: “It’s not until you get close to the photographs that you realise what the images are. It’s here that the viewer becomes uncomfortable.” 


Russell’s work challenges the viewer. Looking at the glass, the viewer sees themselves reflected in the fragmented photograph; they’re at once aroused and repulsed, complacent and perhaps even complicit in the construction of this sexualised image of working women.  By reappropriating and recontextualising erotic images, corp. asks viewers to consider the imagery that perpetuates the stereotypes of young women in the workplace.

You can discover more of Caroline’s photography, as well as watch her videography for corp. on her website.


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