Silence Speaks

Concepts of ‘voice’ have long been connected to the practice, politics and theories of feminism. After all, how can we find agency without ‘a voice’? But there’s no singular, feminist voice. It matters, who speaks for whom and about what, whose voices are valorised and whose are silenced. Even within feminism, it has been difficult to find a place for all voices equally.

This journey gives voice to some ideas that have been frequently silenced, to people traditionally considered voiceless, but it also leaves pauses and gaps – unresolved quiet that nevertheless communicates. Our futures are not predetermined, nor is our past static, and these artists tease out that ambiguity, its promise and its failings.

Izzy Roberts-Orr starts us with a formal but contemporary litany, recounting of the Women’s Liberation Switchboard, reasons to “Call me” for the collective wisdom and purpose to continue our “unfinished business”. Just a few hundred metres away, Terri Ann Quan Sing eschews formalism for a more abstracted, kaleidoscopic view of the ancient future in her work, “Anchors Against”. It may look like a drinking fountain, but the surface can hide much more. Claire G. Coleman, with her work, “Truganini” invites us to sit, reflect and mobilise as “rebel queens” whose fight is still very much alive. To conclude, Aseel Tayah‘s work, “One, Two, Three”, brings us to the Old Melbourne Gaol, looking outward from Australia and inward as a human to ask for a humanity that can do better than imprison its own.

This walk was made possible by Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in collaboration with Peril Magazine.

Taking Space

Space has always mattered to feminism. And it will continue to matter in the future, however that it manifests. Taking space, taking up space, sharing space, ceding space and finding space are all central concerns to this feminist journey which begins and ends at former Salvation Army hall locations.

Where once wayward women and “poor children” had their souls saved, a commercial venue now provides musician, Emily Soon, with inspiration to contemplate the notion of ‘shelter’ and our future generations. Then, Sista Zai Zanda casts her gaze backwards to the controversial Madame Brussels, preserved now in the naming of a bar and laneway, but previously a fraught symbol of the tangled politics of economics, respectability and the feminine. Kochava Lilit unravels the Monster Petition sculpture, which commemorates women’s suffrage, to question how we celebrate, offering a more subtle form of recognition: atonement. From the ‘mighty’ and ‘monster’, Quinn Eades takes us back to the humble public toilet, using it as a platform to ask for more than a place to tend to our bodily needs, instead asking for a complete reappraisal of this place and time and the bodies we allow or do not allow to take up space within it. Finally, Darlene Silva Soberano haunts us with the tenderness of love, its once ubiquitous and quotidian expressions: touch and closeness. With so much space between us now, how can we hold on to what has made us human in the uncertain future?

This journey was made possible by Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in collaboration with Peril Magazine.

Melbourne Overload

Together with Down by the River, this journey was commissioned by the Overload Poetry Festival, and overloaded is a perfect word for it. Given that we’re going from heartbroken train station to the centre of “the world” to Crossways for vegetarian before breaking hearts at both Tattersalls Ln and the Victoria Market, you’ll probably need a good lie down after this one.

Down by the River

The Yarra River, or Birrarung as it was originally known, is at the geographical and psychological heart of the city: this is where it begins and, sometimes, ends. This time around, four poets who have relocated to this fair city stand at different vantage points contemplating the same body of water. Try not to drown.

The Stately Strut

Surrounded by the chaos of the marketplace, look for teenagers with infected ear piercings.  You might not find them, but at least you’ll have a hot jam donut. Maybe they’re waiting for you, sunbaking on the lawns and checking their phones. Either that, or they’re shopping their little hearts out for the Queen’s Jubilee. We could be completely wrong, maybe they’ve just taken their red capes to escape the rain. Who knows. How do you remember it?

Nighthawking

This is one for those who are old enough to stay up late. If you can get past the bouncers, you might just get into the coolest club that used to be. Of course, then you might just get kicked out of the coolest club that never was and miss your tram. Kill time in the late hours, contemplating if you should give your tram fare to the world’s worst busker. Find somewhere open all hours and go out onto the roof and remember just how glamorous you used to think this place was going to be. As soon as you grew up.

Writings on the Wall

Start on a side street and come and acknowledge the statue-less writers who live in dreams. Come edit your identity like generations before you, play with your hyphens in public. Swan about a seedy street corner where no one’s going to try and sell you anything illicit. Anymore. Nor will they call you to let you know when the war ends. After all, you two already broke up.

Underground

In a city this teeming with stories, don’t be surprised if you find them creeping up from the drains, lurking in subways and peeping through the cracks in the concrete and bitumen. Find out what those critters with the lamps on their heads are doing after the commuters go home and then find out just what you’re looking at. Take yourself off to the wrong side of the tracks to see the dirty river holding up a blue fish. Find the real Melbourne beneath fruitshop smiles. This journey feels good late at night. If you’re brave enough.

Scribes and Scribblers

This is the journey for those who love their literature as full of psychedelic longing as their love affairs. Start by draining the rainbow from a smoking unicorn. Then spend an idle moment leafing the pages of an out-of-print edition at Collected Works. Stand in civic pride to close the chapter on your first love, before capping it all off under the corrupt sheen of violating paint. These are poems that aren’t afraid to leave their mark on the city.

The Long Story

This is the journey for those with the legs for poetry. First, take two stone monuments off their plinths for a well-deserved drink. Shake your fist at the Windsor Hotel developers, throw a handful of invisible confetti at a wedding and – if the building is still there – check out the shop that once turned its back to the world. Then, wrap it all up with the ephemeral monuments to the could-have-been legends of Melbourne’s rock scene. This is Melbourne’s long back story: black turtlenecks, grandeur, new money illusions – the tombs of history, glory and disappointment.