A New Project For 2023!
I am excited to start working on a new project this year; well, it’s really a continuation and development of projects past. The threads of power, place, patriarchy and the players within weaves itself into this new project, as yet untitled.
I’ve recently been looking at Feminist Utopias as a concept, and what such a place might look like and how it might function. Something that came from this work was that community and friendship were key in subverting the current dominating patriarchal power and space. These feminist communities and friendships challenge the status quo to such a degree that it is seen as deviant, defiant, or down-right difficult. I became aware of the various barriers and structures put in place to mitigate the problem that is female and gender-diverse collective solidarity, from sub/urban design to the conception of ‘frenemies’ in pop culture.
Picture how female or queer friendships are portrayed on screen or in literature. What do you see or first think of? Is it a group of gossiping middle age ‘Karens’ bitching about another school mum? Is it a bunch of teenage girls hanging out in a friend’s bedroom talking about boys? Is it a couple of 20-somethings giggling at a bar, egging each other on and flirting with the older guys who just bought them a drink?
Whilst there is probably an element of truth in some of these depictions, it certainly isn’t the nuanced, complex and compelling experience of female and gender diverse friendships of myself and people I know. I think about the love, support and strength female and queer friendships offer. I think about the solidarity and confidence they create. The confidence to leave abusive relationships, to start an all-female and n.b. club or festival, to march on parliament demanding rights, justice, equality and respect. Strength in numbers. This is how girls, women and gender diverse folk get shit done. We have to carve out space for ourselves that is just for us. A space that is not just the kitchen or the bedroom.
Public space isn’t designed for girls, women, queer folk, BIPOC, people living disability, or people experiencing homelessness. There are numerous complex systems and structures at play which exclude a large portion of the population from fully engaging and participating safely in public space. One area of interest to me specifically is the suburbs, and how they have historically been designed to segregate and surveil its population.
I grew up in the outer suburbs of a major city, a working class and migrant suburb north-west of Melbourne. I still live in an outer suburb not far from where I grew up, in the same suburb as my sister and just a few streets from my dad’s childhood home. It’s pretty typical of an outer-Melbourne suburb: family-oriented, car-reliant, observant neighbours. Footy grounds, cricket clubs, bike paths, play parks. But, as in most typical suburbs though, there isn’t really any public space for teenage girls.
This new project will look at the teenage girl’s and gender diverse youths’ challenge in defying the power of place, how they find and use space in a suburban world designed not for them. This creative project will be research-led and the outcome with comprise of essay/s and video art piece/s. In the following blog posts I will document the process, my meandering thoughts, and share some insights as they develop into this project I am particularly excited by and have grand visions for!