Charlotte Jansen presents: Caroline Tompkins – Bedfellow

Sunday 19 May 2024
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Screening Room

“Bedfellow” is about the intrinsic relationship between women, sex, and fear. Caroline Tompkins’ photographic series explores the primal vulnerability and power dynamics inherent in gender constructs. While sex can be a positive, lifelong experience, women also bear the burden of violence, often perpetrated by men in the pursuit of power. The dichotomies between soft and hard, lust and violence, and heaven and hell are all recurring tropes throughout the series. The normalization of this violence in everyday life is exemplified by the expectation placed on women to take safety measures, such as carrying pepper spray, not consuming alcohol in excess, and informing friends of their whereabouts. These expectations run parallel to the societal expectation of women to engage in lasting relationships with men and to bear children. Such contradictions lead to an intriguing question regarding the impact of fear on female desire. Tompkins’ personal experience as a woman who both desires and fears men informs her use of the heterosexual “female gaze” to subvert the objectification of women in Western art. The photographer also highlights the power dynamic at play, with her in control of the images but still experiencing inferiority as a woman in a world where women are forced to hold two opposing truths – to explore their sexual desires while navigating an inherited fear of men.  By challenging traditional notions of gender and power, Tompkins’ work highlights the fragility and resilience of the human body and invites viewers to confront their own vulnerabilities in a world that can be both beautiful and dangerous. Through the use of vivid imagery and symbolism, Tompkins’ Bedfellow encourages a nuanced examination of the relationship between pleasure and danger, and the complexities of the human experience.


Ticket Price: Free with Photo London Ticket


Please note, tickets are free of charge to Photo London ticket holders, and pre-registration is strongly advised to avoid disappointment. 



Caroline Tompkins

Caroline Tompkins received a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, with her work featured on the BBC, Vogue, and The New York Times among others. Caroline has worked as a photo editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, Vice Magazine, and New York Magazine. She has worked as a professor at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. In 2022, she published her first monograph, Bedfellow with Palm* Studios. Caroline works as a photographer with editorial and commercial clients in New York City.