Challenging social systems – Artists highlight lack of monuments to women

Probing gender inequity in civic commemoration, Sydney based art duo Make or Break (Connie Anthes and Rebecca Gallo) asked female-identifying people in Kyneton to propose a public artwork, monument or memorial for their town.
In a survey issued they note that ‘In Australia, there are more statues of animals and oversized fruit than there are memorials to (or about) women, and only a tiny fraction of public statues in Australia honour non-fictional, non-royal women: the vast majority honour dead, white men’.
The surveys were collected and displayed in the window of a Mollison Street shopfront that was the artists’ headquarters during the inaugural Kyneton Contemporary Art Triennial held across Kyneton in April last year.
During the event, Make or Break presented a series of live speculative ‘unveilings’ based on select survey contributions, which were developed by the artists with accompanying speeches.
Audiences were guided to a series of locations around the town to witness the site-specific formalities performed with the dramaturgy of an official municipal ceremony.
Through their creative practice, Make or Break seek to ‘question and challenge the social and political systems that influence lives and livelihoods’.
By sharing their research and artistic process and inviting participation from the community, Unveilings made space for voices and ideas that, as evidenced by the lack of monuments to and about women in Australia, are vastly under-represented in public space.
Over the 10 days of KCAT, Make or Break gathered more than 60 survey responses full of ideas that spoke to the desire for more substantial celebration of women’s achievements in public space, profile for those who are often overlooked as well as an acknowledgement of the invisible labour of women who birth, build and nurture the community.
The survey responses from the Unveilings project have been compiled into an artist’s book published by Ruin Press.
The book was launched on Sunday afternoon at the Royal George Hotel in Kyneton, one of Make or Break’s original performance sites. Copies of this limited edition book are for sale through Ruin Press (www.ruinpress.com) or you can borrow one from the Kyneton Library.

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