26 July – 2 September 2018

Contesting Space I: Women in Sport is an exhibition developed as a collaboration between the Centre for Sport and Recreation Research and John Curtin Gallery.

The artists, researchers and others who have contributed to this exhibition, the catalogue of written and visual works, and the program of events, have enduring interests in contestation and the experience of women in sporting arenas and other rule-based everyday settings. Such settings include digital and social media, institutional and public spaces.

Contesting space on the field is an important part of sports such as Australian Rules Football. It is also a significant aspect of everyday life for many women across professional and social spheres. This exhibition uses sport as a lens through which such contestation can be observed to play out in a contemporary Australian context.

In this exhibition visitors are invited into a reflection on the embodied experience of contesting sporting space. Kerreen Ely-Harper’s short film establishes the center for the exhibition. In this work the author Jan Harper explains how for her trail-blazing children’s book ‘Girls Can Do Anything’ the focus was not the sport in itself, but rather how footy sat as a metaphor for women’s participation in contemporary life. Nearly 30 years on from the publication of Harper’s book, and with the establishment of the AFLW, this exhibition enables visitors to reflect on continuing processes of social change in Australia.

This exhibition began as a group of interdisciplinary researchers coming together seeking to frame the context of the new AFLW. The resultant paper explores how women in sport contest and negotiate dominant ideologies through self-representation, spatial justice and narratives of hope and resistance. Extending the conversation established in the original paper, this exhibition seeks to make new connections and provoke new conversations as the basis for future collaborations.


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