MONA Ladies Lounge Ordered to Open up or Shut up

April 11, 2024 9:49 am in by

At the heart of a bold art experiment at the museum curated by Kirsha Kaechele, owned by David Walsh, a controversial decision was made that sparked legal debate.

The tribunal’s Deputy President Richard Grueber captured the essence of the conflict as an art piece that discriminates on purpose for artistic reasons versus the law’s aim to prevent discrimination.

But according to a recent ruling by the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Kaechele’s provocative artwork crossed legal boundaries, despite its ambitious artistic intent.

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The controversy began when Jason Lau, who paid $35 for a ticket to MONA in April 2023, was denied access to an exhibit because of his gender

Mr Lau later discovered he was denied from experiencing an audacious display that included a dramatic sculpture of a “defeated phallus” and treasures like Picasso paintings and a wedding crown worn by Ms. Kaechele herself.

The concept for the exhibit emerged during the COVID-19 lockdowns, partly as a creative fix to the critique of insufficient seating and to compliment it’s counterpart Ladies Lounge Designed by Men, which is open to everyone.

Kaechele’s lounge was a commentary on historical gender restrictions, giving a nod to elite men-only clubs.

However, “the act does not permit discrimination for good faith artistic purpose,” clarified Grueber.

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He suggested that while the lounge could operate as a women-only space under legal artistic intentions, its failure to meet exemption criteria for promoting equal opportunity led to its legal challenge.

The tribunal’s decision?

MONA must end the gender-based exclusion, and has 4 weeks to decide to offer a chance for all to explore the exhibit or face its removal. This ruling challenges the boundaries of art, law, and gender, sparking a conversation on where to draw the line in artistic expression.


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