What's Work Worth?
Examining relationships between work, worth and gender, short films, objects and audio installations stimulate reflection on the biases we all carry.
What do museum collections tell us about the work that women (and by implication, men) do? Do objects have gender or do they help construct gender? Or is gender simply a figment of our socially constructed imaginations? What is women’s work? How should museums represent it?
Our aim has been to use feminist theory to rethink traditional museum practices and to use radical curatorial practices to rethink feminism.
What’s Work Worth? explores the gendered nature of work in three displays. The first display, located in the narrow confines of the gaol’s corridor compresses 20,000 plus years of local and international work history into a single shelf of objects.
The second display, located in a former prison cell, consists of a carefully selected series of historical films detailing the history of Australian women’s struggle for equal working rights.
The third display, located in another former prison cell, contains a sound installation. This is an audio collage of extracts from longer oral history interviews which we and a small group of volunteers recorded, and later worked on, with Alice Springs residents who spoke about the way work and gender have structured their lives.
These displays invite visitors to ponder two sets of questions about the gendered nature of men and women’s working lives.
The first set interrogates the thorny issue of why the revolutionary changes in women’s work, which have occurred since World War II, do not appear to have increased women’s worth.
The second invites visitors to consider the possibility that the objects adults use in their work-a-day-worlds might gender us in the same way that children’s toys can gender them.