Gender equity installation to activate suburban mall

The organizers of a month-long installation and festival occupying parts of an aging mall in Melbourne’s sprawling eastern suburbs hope to strike up a conversation about gender equity and the gendered nature of public spaces through an idiosyncratic program that includes a feminist karaoke party, cake decorating classes and a number of workshops and other events.

Titled Framed by Gender, the project involving artist Anna Farago and feminist art collective Hotham Street Ladies aims to “disrupt, explore and positively reframe notions of equality.”

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The Boronia Mall, opened in the 1970s, has experienced high rates of vacancy in recent years, with a plan by the local council and Renew Australia to revitalize the building in 2016 pronounced a “failure.”

The centrepiece of the Framed by Gender program is The Shop of Opportunity, a large-scale installation by the Hotham Street Ladies that will occupy a former Glora Jeans cafe. The space “will become a gallery and community venue, where the community can participate in arts, installation, performances and collective events to explore themes of feminism, community, suburbia, public space and gender equality.”

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The five-member Hotham Street Ladies collective has explored the gendered nature of space and architecture through a number of previous works, including its winning entry with Pop Architecture in the 2018 Tapestry Design Prize, Australia’s only architectural tapestry prize.

The group is also organizing a “Feminism for Kids” cake icing workshop and a scavenger hunt for children that looks at “spaces, shops, signs and symbols that are gendered in some way or have gender implications.”

The festival kicks off on 9 November with a karaoke party on the mall’s revolving stage, hosted by the Hotham Street Ladies.

For more information on the programme of events, go here.

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