Curating Feminism | A Contemporary Art and Feminism Event | Sydney

Image: Alice Lang Originals (2014).

Image: Alice Lang Originals (2014).

Curating Feminism, a Contemporary Art and Feminism event is co-hosted by Sydney College of the Arts, School of Letters, Arts and Media, and The Power Institute, University of Sydney. The event will run over Thursday 23 October to Sunday 26 October, and will include an exhibition, masterclasses, conference and wikithon. See events for specific times and venues.

Collectively, the event seeks to ask the following key questions:

  • How can curating be an activist practice, especially in the realm of gender?
  • What does it mean to be a feminist curator, or to adopt a feminist curatorial method?
  • How does an emphasis on process, collaboration and negotiation help us imagine feminist curating?


Keynote Speakers
Michael BirchallActivism & Art: for the de-proletarianized petty bourgeoisie

6.00pm Thursday 23 October | SCA Galleries, Callan Park, Rozelle
Michael Birchall is a Berlin based curator, writer and the co-publisher of On Curating, a journal devoted to curatorial practice, published by Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), where he lectures in the postgraduate program in curating.

Dr Maura Reilly | Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curating

6.00pm Friday 24 October | Domain Theatre, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Dr Maura Reilly, founding curator of Elizabeth Sackler Centre for feminist art at Brooklyn Museum, NY, and co-curator with iconic feminist art historian Linda Nochlin of Global Feminisms, major international exhibition of feminist contemporary art at Brooklyn Museum 2007.
Book here for Dr Maura Reilly’s lecture.


Exhibition | Curating Feminism
Opening 7.00pm Thursday 23 October | SCA Galleries

To be opened by Verity Firth, CEO of the Public Education Foundation, Labor candidate for Balmain and former State Minister for Women, Education and Training, and the Environment. The exhibition runs until Friday 7 November.

The curators, in choosing and then working with the artists, were asked to explore the following questions and attempt to develop strategies that bring fresh insights into these pressing issues: What might curatorial activism look like, especially in the realm of gender? What does it mean to be a feminist curator, or to adopt a feminist curatorial method? ‘Curating Feminism’ addresses ideas around the ethics of collaboration between artist and curator to facilitate the logistics of the laboratory-style approach. It adopts the curatorial model of one curator, one artist/artist collective as a deliberate strategy to decentralize the curatorial process. It includes a long installation period to give the curators and artists the rare chance to work in the galleries as a process space, and to explore ideas of activism/feminism in the making/curatorial process as much as in the finished work. ‘Curating Feminism’ envisages the gallery as a creative space for discussion, interaction and activism. More information on the artists and curators here.

Curating Masterclasses
10.00 am – 12.00pm Friday 24 October | SCA, followed by lunch
15- 20 participants in each masterclass. Registrations via the SCA webpage here. Expressions of interest close 7th October.

1) Maura Reilly: Feminist Killjoy or Happy Humanist?
This masterclass will address some pressing issues within the context of contemporary art and feminism, especially as it relates to the practice of curating.

2) Michael Birchall: Curating in times of crisis: immaterial labour and the rise of the entrepreneur
Can curatorial labour be subverted, altered or challenged? This masterclass will offer artists and curators an opportunity to present their own projects and discuss models for working in times of crisis, by adopting alternative curatorial strategies, and perhaps moving towards an entrepreneurial model against the neoliberal state.

3) Tess Allas Director of indigenous programs, UNSW: ‘Girl genius’: redressing gender imbalance
Most Australian Art schools attract more female than male students and the representation of women in course syllabuses and the representation of women in the gallery system once students graduate is reversed. There is a distinct lack of critical engagement of women artists throughout history and in the contemporary art discourse in the media, in arts reviews, in scholarly texts and in ‘in-class’ discussions. We would like to present an open discussion with participants to tease out some of the reasons behind these blatant gender imbalance issues that could help feed into our future exhibition and discussion panel idea of ‘Girl Genius’.

Conference: Curating Feminism
10.00am – 4.00 pm Saturday 25 October | SCA auditorium
Registrations via this website

Panel 1) Curating feminism: Speaking to the exhibition:
Chair: Catriona Moore, Art History and Film Studies, University of Sydney
Courtney Pedersen and LEVEL, Directors of LEVEL, Brisbane
Kelly Doley, artist/curator
Elvis Richardson and Virginia Fraser, artist/curator
Brigid Noone, curator

Panel 2) Curating public space:
Chair: Jacqueline Millner, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney
Bianca Hester, artist
Jo Holder, Director Cross Arts Projects
Sophia Kougiyiam, Director Parramatta Artists Studio
Gillian Fuller, DAAO (TBC): Launching CAF online curatorial spaces

Panel 3) Curating regionalism:
Chair: Jo Holder, Director Cross Arts Projects
Beth Jackson, Bimblebox, Far North Queensland
Meryl Ryan, Lake Macquarie Regional Gallery, NSW
Jasmin Stephens, freelance curator
Alana Hunt and convenor of For the Women project, Warmun Arts Centre, Western Australia (TBC)

Contemporary Art and Feminism Wikipedia-edit-a-thon 
11.00am – 4.00pm Sunday 26 October | Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Wikipedia’s gender trouble is well documented. In a 2010 survey it was revealed that less than 13% of its contributors identify as female. The practical effect of this disparity is clear—with more articles on notable women missing when compared to Encyclopaedia Britannica—Wikipedia is clearly skewed. This represents a huge inequality in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge. Join us at the MCA for an all day communal updating of Wikipedia entries on subjects related to contemporary art and feminism. We will provide tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian and reference materials from the MCA library. Bring your laptop, power cord and ideas for entries that need updating or creation. At 12pm there will be a floor talk by members Brown Council about their work in the MCA collection and at 1pm Senior Curator Natasha Bullock will discuss women artists in the collection.

Further information on all events and links to register for individual events are available here: