Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Draft of Symposium Program now available

Feminism and the Museum: a Symposium

November 2, 2013. Conference Room, Level 4,

 National Library of Australia.

Delegates arrive
9.15 – 9.30
Welcome to Country
Welcome from the symposium’s conveners
Alison Bartlett (UWA) and Margaret Henderson (UQ)
9.30 – 10.30
Keynote Lecture
- “Speaking, Doing, Making, Being: Four modes of Feminism in the National Museum”
  Dr Kirsten Wehner (National Museum of Australia)
10.30 – 10.45
Coffee break
10.45 – 12.30
Session I: Collecting
- “Women are Transmogrifying”
   Mandy Paul (History SA)
- “The Gendered Politics of Collections”
   Sophia Maalsen (U Syd)
- “Feminist Futures, Feminist Pasts and Generational  
   Relationships: responding to second wave activist material
   culture in Adelaide collections”
   Petra Mosmann (Flinders)
- “First Steps in Digitization: Irene Greenwood and Woman to
   Kate Makowiecka (Murdoch)
12-30 – 1.00
1.00 – 1.45
- “The Lost Culture of Women’s Liberation, the Pre-Dynastic
   Phase 1969-74”
  Suzanne Bellamy (U Syd)
1.45 – 3.30
Session II: Exhibiting
- “A Mediterranean Bazaar: The Bazar du Genre exhibition at the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) in Marseille, 2013”
  Bronwyn Winter (U Syd)
- “Acting Out: performing feminisms in the contemporary art
  Courtney Pedersen (QUT) and Rachael Haynes (QUT)
- “What is a Feminist Object? Things that liberate and material
  Alison Bartlett (UWA) and Margaret Henderson (UQ)
- “The Military Museum as a site for feminist history
  Lindsey V. Sharman (U Calgary)
3.30 – 5.00
Book Launch
- Things that Liberate: An Australian Feminist 
   Wunderkammer, edited by Alison Bartlett and Margaret 
   Henderson, launched by Marian Sawer (ANU) at the Library
Dinner (Venue TBA)

Register your attendance for the symposium here, and for the book launch here!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Brief Abstracts of Papers to be Presented


“Women are Transmogrifying”
Mandy Paul (History SA)

Blue Jeans and Jungle Greens, an exhibition on the sixties and seventies in South Australia, featured the emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement as one of the social movements of the time, and put it in its immediate social and political context. Looking for objects to represent feminism in the period, and finding none in the collection, I sought the advice of a colleague – who lent her collection of badges. This paper will explore the reasons why objects relating to the Women’s Liberation Movement are still in drawers in people’s houses rather than museum stores. It will also acknowledge the significant impact feminist curators have had on shaping the practice of public history in Australian social history museums over the last three decades. Reflecting on this work, I will ponder whether interpretation grounded in feminist historiography can render ‘feminist’ a much wider range of objects than stickers and badges.

“The Gendered Politics of Collections”
Sophia Maalsen (U Syd)

The symposium recognises the role of material culture and museums in fostering social memory while also noting the absence of second wave feminism in museum representation. This paper will look at possible attitudes that thwart the representation of feminist representation in museums by focusing on the act of collecting and collections themselves. Women’s objects of collection, more frequently reflecting items of domestic spheres and everyday existence, have frequently in the past not been considered worthy items and therefore lack the qualities of a respected ‘collection’. It is more than just recognising items of feminist material culture, but the acknowledgement that women’s material culture counts. Thus this paper reflects less on individual items of material culture but on the structural positions of collecting, which regard them as so.

“Feminist futures, feminist pasts and generational relationships: Responding to second wave activist material culture in Adelaide collections”

Petra Mosmann (Flinders)

In Adelaide there are several libraries and galleries that have archived second wave activist material including: the University of Adelaide Special Collections, Flinders University Art Gallery/Special Collections, the State Library of South Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia. This paper explores the collection and curation of second wave activist material in these institutions and the generational relationships implied and created by these archives. This paper considers second wave material in the hands of feminists that have no activist memory, who gain what Zora Simic calls ‘feminist competency’ primarily through academic accomplishment rather than activism. It argues that collecting the remnants of feminist activism locates a feminist future in the self-reflexive archiving of feminisms pasts, which sets out new relationships between feminist ‘generations’. 

“First steps in digitisation: Irene Greenwood and Woman to Woman
Kate Makowiecka (Murdoch)

Irene Greenwood was known nationally and internationally for her lifetime’s work in the peace and women’s movements. In the 1980s, Irene donated many boxes of personal correspondence, books, journals and papers to Murdoch University. Some of this material has been catalogued, but many boxes remain as they arrived. Amongst the contents of several boxes are typescripts of her Woman to Woman radio programs, together with files of correspondence between Irene and her many women listeners, and other relevant odds and ends. Murdoch University Library had been planning for some time to trial the digitisation of archived material to see what was involved in terms of time, money, equipment, staffing, and so on; in 2011 it was decided that we would use Irene’s Woman to Woman scripts for our first digitisation project. This paper tells the story of the project so far, and starts with negotiating the copyright in Irene’s typescripts.


“A Mediterranean Bazaar : The Bazar du Genre exhibition at the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) in Marseille, 2013”
Bronwyn Winter (U Syd)

One of the MuCEM’s two inaugural temporary exhibitions is “Au Bazar du Genre” (at the Gender Bazaar). It is dedicated to exploring the recent history of feminist—and LGBT—challenges to the order of male domination in the twenty-one countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. The multimedia exhibition features feminist activist memorabilia, newsreel footage, scenes from classic films, videos of more recent ‘activist’ performance art, and various visual artworks. The exhibition catalogue features articles by many well-known academics, which, along with the place in which the exhibition occurs, confers considerable prestige on it. This paper will discuss these various facets of the exhibition and reactions to it in France, as an example of a certain institutionalisation of feminist memory that has both salutary and problematic aspects.

“Acting Out: performing feminisms in the contemporary art museum”
Courtney Pedersen (QUT) and Rachael Haynes (QUT)

The position that feminist art holds within the art museum is complex and often contradictory. There is a very real danger that when absorbed into the museum collection, feminist art can become a historicizing category; framed as a singular movement rather than a still relevant set of strategies.  Since 2010, the feminist artist collective LEVEL has been involved in a range of activities designed to reinvigorate the discussion of women’s position in the art world and society more broadly. They have been commissioned to provide a public program as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s WAR IS OVER! (IF YOU WANT IT): YOKO ONO exhibition in late 2013. This paper discusses the design of that project as an attempt to move beyond the script of feminism as a historical moment, and back to the lived experience of feminist art as political understanding and social engagement.

“What is a Feminist Object? Things that liberate and material culture”
Alison Bartlett (UWA) and Margaret Henderson (UQ)

Investigating the idea of feminist material culture this paper focuses on  ‘what is a feminist object?’ Finding that museum studies literature still struggles to address feminist materials and methods, we briefly survey some established women’s museums and then draw some more specific observations from two recent projects: a collection of objects on feminist activism for a national museum; and a collection of essays focused on feminist objects. Both of these projects are specifically in relation to Australian feminist activism from the 1970s onward. The conclusions we draw around the nature of feminist things suggests this is a rich source of memory, material culture, and physical evidence of socially transformative ideas which offer innovative ways of attending to feminist times and social movement histories which remain marginalized and therefore at risk of cultural amnesia.

“The Military Museum as a site for feminist history.”
Lindsey V. Sharman (U Calgary)

Existing military museums and archives play a major role in sharing the achievements of women and function as custodians of historical and contemporary artifacts relating to second wave feminism. With a backdrop of military history, we can examine major historical events including suffrage, inclusion in the general workforce and military service, one can even look at contemporary issues surrounding reproductive freedom by examining the use of rape as a weapon of war. There are current programs at The Military Museums, Calgary, (TMM) and The Canadian War Museum, Ottawa (CWM) that incorporate narratives of feminist history into the overall story of Canada, and the world, at war. These projects not only function to present and preserve histories, but also strive to change the typically misogynist lens through which their publics view history.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Exhibition and Performance at the Symposium

   Suzanne Bellamy is an Australian artist and writer exhibiting internationally, working across text and image fusions, using printmaking, sculpture, performance, mixed media art practices. Her museum satire/women's history project "The Lost Culture of Women's Liberation, the Pre-Dynastic Phase 1969-74" was first exhibited in the mid 1990s at various conferences and venues in Australia and the USA, and has since evolved as an open form performance work/slide show presented in art schools, conferences and special events. Its core trope is an archaeological dig in 500 years time of a women's building site in Sydney, playing with shifting historical perceptions, actual archival material and constructed models.
   Bellamy works from a studio in southern NSW, is a Woolf and Stein published scholar, is currently completing a PhD on Australian Modernism at the University of Sydney. Her most recent exhibition was at the Acorn Gallery, Clemson University South Carolina 2013, where she was a Visiting Artist and Scholar. 

You can learn more about Suzanne's artistic practice from her website, and experience "The Lost Culture of Women's Liberation, the Pre-Dynastic Phase 1969-74" at the symposium by registering your attendance here.

Feminism and the Museum's Keynote Speaker

Our keynote speaker, Dr Kirsten Wehner, will be presenting her paper "Speaking, Doing, Making, Being: Four Modes of feminism in the National Museum" at the symposium.
Kirsten is currently the Head Curator of People and the Environment at the National Museum of Australia, and was previously Content Director for the development of the Museum's Landmarks (opened 2011) and Journeys (2009) galleries and the Circa theatre (2008). She is the co-editor and co-author of Landmarks: A history of Australia in 33 places (2013) and National Museums: Negotiating Histories (1999). Kirsten has worked in the cultural heritage sector for over 15 years, curating a range of collections, exhibitions and documentary films exploring diverse aspects of Australian history and culture. Her current interests include place and environmental histories, feminist critiques of nature/culture, re-interpreting natural history collections, online interpretation and the potential for museums to contribute to building ecologically resilient communities.

You can register to attend the symposium here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Call for Papers, and Registrations now open


Feminism and the Museum

An Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association mini-conference
Date: 8.45am – 5pm, Saturday, 2 November 2013
Venue: The National Library of Australia, Canberra
Keynote Speaker: Kirsten Wehner, Senior Curator, National Museum of Australia
Featuring: Suzanne Bellamy, “The Lost Culture of Women’s Liberation, 1969-1974” exhibition/performance
The role of museums and objects in fostering social memory is widely recognized, however, the presence of second wave feminism in museums is limited.  This symposium wishes to address the way in which second wave feminism is, or can be, collected and displayed in museums, and the role of material culture in memorializing feminism.  We invite papers from researchers and museum workers that address the intersection of second wave feminism and the museum, including, but not limited to, the following topics:
·       What is a feminist object?
·       What makes a feminist museum exhibition and collection?
·       Women’s museums internationally
·       The New Museology and feminist theory and practice
·       Private collections into public archives
·       Curating feminist objects, training feminist curators
·       Feminist collections and the virtual museum
Presentations are 20 minutes in length.
Please forward a 200-300 word abstract and contact details to: by 30 September.  Successful proposals will be acknowledged by 10 October.


$60 wages, $40 concessional

Symposium Convenors: Alison Bartlett, The University of Western Australia;
Margaret Henderson, The University of Queensland