When Allaire Bartel first began her “Dollface” project – a photo series demonstrating how women’s risk of oppression is constant in modern society – it was based in part on her own experience. She recalls:
Twice in the same day someone had made an inappropriate comment and someone else had touched me inappropriately … and I hadn’t reacted at all. I realized that we have all become conditioned to these things happening to us. They’re just ‘normal.’
A recent mentoring program of the Young Photographer’s Alliance, under a theme of “Boundaries,” inspired her to create this series, which features friend and model Erin Cooper, who has undergone the same circumstances. The frozen stares Cooper gives in each photo indicate the commonality of such abuse even today, pointing out how women are expected to simply accept it.
I was particularly determined to express the idea that oppression of women does not just occur in extreme isolated incidents (violent rape and physical abuse) but can also be felt in lesser forms during the day to day. […] The concept of male entitlement is represented by male arms and hands performing a variety of actions that are overwhelming intrusive on her body and her life. In each situation she maintains a blank expression, a visual choice that demonstrates how conditioned we as women have become to accept this atmosphere as excusable and even normal.
The idea led to the photographs you can see below. Other shots were taken, Bartel told If You Only News, but these five captured the message best.
There was another office setting that didn’t make the cut, as well as a staged wedding scene. I think we managed to capture a decent variety of situations, provided you see the photos as a representation and not take the settings completely literally. For example, not everyone works in an office, but many people can relate to experiencing harassment in their workplace.
Since first appearing in a New York City studio, Bartel’s “Dollface” project has caught steam, with coverage from many media outlets, inspiring her to further direct public attention to its cause. Prints of the photos will soon be available for sale, she told If You Only News, with proceeds going to charity.
The prints will be available to purchase via my website shortly. The plan is to do small, inexpensive prints, with no less (but potentially more) than 40 percent of sales being directly donated to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Here are the photos, and a video of Bartel explaining the shoot is below, as well. In other interviews, viewable from her site, Bartel offers details behind each of the pictures.
Here’s Bartel’s video: