Women in Suburbia at FRAN FEST


Women aren’t objects and girls have power. These are the overarching statements being made by two new exhibitions at ACE Open. Featuring video and ceramic works by Margaret Dodd, alongside an experimental documentary by Kate Blackmore, the shows collectively explore the complex relationships between suburbia and womanhood.

The exhibitions are showing as part of FRAN FEST, a South Australian festival which explores the historical push of second wave feminism, as well as contemporary feminism and current art practices. 2017 marks the first year of FRAN FEST, which was created to celebrate the 1977 exhibition The Women’s Show at Experimental Art Foundation (now ACE Open).

Originally exhibiting at The Women’s Show, Dodd is now presenting her ceramic Holden sculptures from 1977 alongside her 1982 film, This Woman is Not a Car. The works look at representations of women in suburbia, considering the links between fantasy, eroticism, fetishism, masculinity and violence.

As ACE Open curator Toby Chapman explains, “Dodd’s audacious film and ‘funk ceramic’ Holdens explore femininity and the maternal against a backdrop of the burgeoning suburbs of northern Adelaide.” Curated by Susan Charlton, the exhibition also features archival material as well as Dodd’s recent works.

Blackmore’s 2014 documentary, Girls was created over 40 years. Despite Blackmore’s different take on women in suburbia, her experimental documentary is placed within an intergenerational conversation with Dodd’s work.

Blackmore’s piece follows the experience of four 14-year-old girls growing up in Claymore, a public housing estate in south-west Sydney. Due to its high rate of crime, substance abuse, domestic violence and welfare dependency, a Griffith University research paper has labelled Claymore as “the most disadvantaged community in Australia.”

Yet when capturing the experience of the four young women coming into adulthood, Blackmore is more focussed on the hope of future opportunities. “Blackmore beautifully captures the tenacity and strength of these girls as they speak about their ambitions and desires to break the cycle of social disadvantage that seems to have dictated their lives,” says Chapman.

This Woman is Not a Car
Margaret Dodd
ACE Open
8 – 30 September

Kate Blackmore
ACE Open
8 – 30 September

Various venues throughout South Australia
25 August – 24 September

Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus