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.

Flour Image

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.

To read more about the phi­los­o­phy behind the exhi­bi­tion fol­low this link to an arti­cle which appeared in Word of Mouth mag­a­zine in Autumn 2018.

This arti­cle about the exhi­bi­tion appeared in Alice Springs News writ­ten by Keiran Finnane http://​www​.alice​springsnews​.co…