WORKAROUND engaged with a movement of women who are focused on advocacy and activism within an expanded field of architecture. Each of these practitioners works towards positive change in the built environment and its surrounding cultures. Motivated by the increasing urgency of the challenges we all now face – environmental, social and professional – these women work around existing conventions, systems and structures.
Such practitioners share some common characteristics. They demonstrate agency, strategic opportunism and values-based leadership. Also, they can be defined by what they are not – they are not conventional practitioners, and they are (generally) not producing objects or working within the traditional structure of the design office. These practitioners are agile and each has developed workarounds to critically negotiate and rethink systemic limitations; circumventing entrenched professional hierarchies; managing working life and family demands, and extending the bounds of architecture and design.
Within the diverse practices of these women, gender and feminist politics play varying roles: sometimes a direct and explicit driver, sometimes an implicit and understated context.
WORKAROUND was an online broadcast and a program of live events. Fourteen Australian practitioners each presented a critique, conversation, interview, workshop or performance that articulated their strategies and workarounds and reflected on their activist practice. Each of the episodes could be watched in real time as it occurred from the set at RMIT Design Hub Gallery, or viewed online via the Design Hub Gallery website.
For WORKAROUND, our curatorial intention was clear – it was to identify, assemble, create a platform for, and find new connections between a burgeoning movement of women focused on advocacy and activism within an expanded field of architecture. These fourteen broadcast episodes brought to light ways of working within, without and beside architecture as it has previously been conceived. WORKAROUND was our opportunity to learn how this extraordinary group of women articulate their particular workarounds – both personal and professional – that are necessary and urgent to effect change.
Simona Castricum; Esther Charlesworth; Pippa Dickson; Pia Ednie-Brown; Harriet Edquist; Mary Featherston; Guest, Riggs (Kate Riggs + Stephanie Guest); Amy Learmonth; Helen Norrie; OoPLA (Tania Davidge + Christine Phillips); Parlour; Sam Spurr; SueAnne Ware and XYX Lab, Monash University (led by Director Dr Nicole Kalms and the combined strengths of core members – Dr Gene Bawden, Dr Pamela Salen, Allison Edwards, Hannah Korsmeyer and Zoe Condliffe).
Kate Rhodes and Fleur Watson (RMIT University), Naomi Stead (Monash University)
Exhibition design by Sibling
Graphic design by Round
Episodes by Pia Ednie-Brown and OoPLA are presented in partnership with Open House Melbourne
RMIT Design Hub Gallery team: Kate Rhodes, Nella Themelios, Erik North, Tim McLeod, Layla Cluer, Michaela Bear, Ari Sharp, Simon Maisch, Gavin Bell, Jessica Wood, Bryce Maher, Robert Jordan, Ian Bunyi, Luke Garrett, Síofra Lyons, Luke Pringipas
WORKAROUND opening night, images courtesy of Tobias Titz