The Second Shift: Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki

Clare Gallagher (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

36 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


This multicomponent research examines the second shift, the hidden shift of housework and childcare primarily carried out by women on top of their paid employment. Focusing on the home, it considers art as a means of resistance: looking for what is omitted in representation, paying attention to what seems unworthy of noticing at all, and showing our ways of making do and getting by. The second shift is physical, mental, and emotional labour which demands effort, skill and time but is unpaid, unaccounted for, unequally distributed and largely unrecognised. In 2016 the ONS estimated the value of the UK’s unpaid household service work exceeded a trillion pounds annually (63% of GDP).
This research aims to make the second shift and its attendant emotional affects visible, published as an award-winning photobook (2019), international exhibitions (2020), and developed into video and sculptural work. Sociological studies on the second shift are numerous yet, the lack of visibility is perhaps the biggest problem, with a paucity of visual art attempting to address it. The insistent distinction made between private and public masks a comprehensive inequality and the excuse for failing to address it. Recognising that gendered differences extend beyond the individual to the structural creates space to press for change; the personal is political. This research aims to build on that of artists such as Bobby Baker and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Taking its character of tactical resistance from Sylvia Plath’s poem Mushrooms, it illuminates the details of quotidian practices of housework and family care, with a quiet anger at what is taken for granted. The book’s interweaving of a poem by Leontia Flynn, along with the quotes and author’s own short text, frames a body of visual work whose quietness might have permitted the rage to pass unnoticed.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherFinnish Museum of Photography
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Oct 2020


  • women's work
  • photography
  • second shift
  • resistance
  • feminism
  • housework
  • children
  • family life


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