The female form is often viewed as an object of desire. This idea permeates every aspect of popular culture. Pictures in magazines, billboards, and television shows suggest that a woman’s value is measured by her ability to please a man, creating an archetype of femininity characterized by submissiveness, unintelligence, and sex appeal. Bitchglitch is a critical investigation of this misrepresentation of women in contemporary society. Using imagery from commercial advertisements as source material, this body of work seeks to subvert the commodification of the female form as a tool of oppression and social control.
Mainstream advertising is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Their purpose is selling products to be consumed; in fact, many ads literally depict the female body as a piece of meat. Others allude to women as candy. The predominance of these highly sexualized representations of femininity serves to normalize the objectification of women. These interpretations are often one-dimensional, limited to the roles of sex-toy, housewife, or damsel in distress. The imagery used in Bitchglitch shows a range of these female stereotypes. When seen as a group, recurring themes of violence, objectification, and disempowerment emerge.
The process of making is an integral part of the project’s conceptual framework. To create the collages, ads sourced from the Internet are translated into code and “glitched,” or damaged, using a text edit program. Once reverted back into images files, various elements of the corrupted images are reassembled to form a new composition. A re-purposing of digital errors, the use of this dirty new media aesthetic provides a direct way of confronting the flawed nature of these representations of women.
The resulting digital collage is then printed using a photographic process known as gum bichromate to create a tangible object. Invented in the 1800s, this three-layer printing process is closely related to methods used in advertising before the advent of digital media. The synthesis of these formal qualities works to emphasize the persistence of these negatives views of women throughout history, combining the past and present, the physical and the abstract. Sardonically remixing the symbols of archetypal femininity, Bitchglitch rejects its ideals and challenges its validity as a social construct.
Artist Kellye Grace Eisworth was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She received her BFA in photography from Louisiana State University in 2012. Working within the tradition of photographic portraiture and utilizing a variety of photographic processes, Eisworth’s arts practice explores the relationship between concepts of personal identity and larger social constructs. Her most recent work approaches this issue from a feminist perspective, offering a critical look into cultural standards of beauty and femininity.
Eisworth has exhibited her work in galleries across the country and has been featured in a variety of online and print publications. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she teaches traditional darkroom photography. Though she resides in the Southwest, Eisworth continues to consider Louisiana her home.
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Text and images © Kellye Eisworth