Women As Objects

From 2011-2013 Durbin created an archive on Tumblr for what she called "the teen girl tumblr aesthetic." Women as Objects is a curation of tumblr posts that revel in the glittering, pastel, abject, girly, grotesque, (dis)embodied, and angsty. The posts highlight the creativity, intelligence, and ambivalence of a particular subset of young femmes, growing up on the Internet. Their hyper-awareness of themselves as sexual objects in a patriarchal culture is a particular focus of the project.

Durbin was interested in the way authorship functioned in these spaces, where users primarily reblogged and altered images from the Tumblr stream, as opposed to creating wholly original content, and where the original author was frequently unattributed. The publicness of the posts and their subsequent influence on dominant culture was also of interest.

One particular instance that highlights the unique cultural production of Tumblr girls (and Tumblr more generally) is the Chanel logo. Users on Tumblr began wearing melted and intentionally handpainted Chanel logos, and instead of suing, Chanel then stole this idea to incorporate back into its own branding.

Durbin curated a selection of posts from Women as Objects for art blog Bright Stupid Confetti, in an online show called Girls, Online. Art critic Jerry Saltz said of the grouping, "Some of that information in that Kate Durbin show bordered on the sacred and forbidden for me. Extraordinarily important visual information to have in the culture. The ideas she's plumbing in that 'show' or 'grouping' feel apt. Ripe."

Women as Objects was featured in Public Art Dialogue, Arcadia Missa's How to Sleep Faster, .dpi Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture, The School for Global Art Down Under, Art Forum, T-Mobile's Digital Daily, and Pitchfork, among others.

Durbin closed the project in 2013 as Tumblr began to shift to an increasingly corporate space.