In Passing is a participatory community art project that brings diverse groups of women together to highlight and unpack concerns and experiences around gender, power and public space… through games of pass the parcel.
While the issue of violent attacks against women occasionally takes centre stage in the media, this project focuses on the constant undercurrent of gendered power plays that colour our everyday experiences of public spaces. From the lewd comments from men in passing cars, to offensive graffiti that lines our alleyways, to the omnipresent sexualised images of women plastered on bus shelters, these occurrences and images have subtle yet constant effects on our psychology. They act as ever present reminders that we can’t get too comfortable in our public streets, that public space isn’t women’s space. While such instances are considered too trivial to feature in the media or social commentary, they sit on the same spectrum as the more physical and violent acts against women in public space. They affect how we feel on our streets everyday.
In Passing salons, hosted in lounge rooms and parks, create opportunities for women to reflect on their day-to-day experiences of public space in a light-hearted, constructive and forward-looking manner through a series of facilitated activities.
The first iteration of In Passing occurred in Brunswick in 2013 and involved over 100 women participating across eighteen ‘salon’ events to examine their day-to-day experience of public space using the familiar form of a pass-the-parcel game. The 2013 iteration was funded by the Eirene Lucas Foundation and Moreland City Council.
A second iteration occurred in 2014-15 in the suburb of Coburg and was funded by Arts Victoria and Moreland City Council. The Brunswick and Coburg iterations of In Passing can be considered the beginnings of a much wider participatory community art project seeking to highlight and challenge gender inequalities inherent in our cultural norms, and explore ways that women can reclaim our public space.
Many thanks to Groupwork Institute‘s Steve Ray for facilitation guidance, and to Gabrielle de Vietri, The Seam, Julie Monro-Allison, Marc Martin and Jodee Mundy for artistic guidance and support in the development of In Passing.
See www.inpassing.com.au for more details.
Image credit: Zoe Evershed