Museum  June 24, 2024  Carlota Gamboa

Museum of Old and New Art Moves Picasso Paintings To Restroom

Wikimedia Commons

Art exhibit at MONA, Berriedale, Tasmania, 2023. License

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has moved some key pieces from their women's-only exhibition into the restroom after a court ruled they had to allow men in the exclusive “Ladies Lounge.” 

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year after a Sydney man complained to The Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, found the space discriminatory and gave the museum 28 days to cease any gender-based bias. The Ladies Lounge has been closed since.

However, artist and lounge curator Kirsha Kaechele has taken creative action in response to the outcome. She plans to work around the sentence by reclassifying the exhibit as a church or a school, which permits gendered exclusion under section 26 of Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act. 

Throughout the trial, Kaechele’s attitude remained playful and unapologetic. She has stood firm on the Ladies Lounge concept and even told The Guardian, “The men are experiencing Ladies Lounge, their experience of rejection is the artwork.”

Created in 2020, Kaechele’s exhibit served to create a safe space for women where they could be lavishly catered to and waited on while viewing art. In a room of black and white striped floors with velvet green drapes, those who were able to enter were served champagne by male butlers, surrounded by works from Pablo Picasso, Sidney Nolan, and viewing cases of Mesopotamian antiques

The exhibit space was supposedly inspired by old Australian pubs which prohibited the entry of women until 1965. During her defense, Kaechele argued that the lounge was “a response to the lived experience of women forbidden from entering certain spaces throughout history.”

Picasso, 1901

Pablo Picasso, Woman Ironing

Kaechele, who also happens to be the wife of Mona’s owner David Walsh, brought the Ladies Lounge to the court when presenting her argument in April. 

Accompanied by 25 other women, all dressed in identical navy suits and reading glasses, they performed synchronized movements in efforts to convey that the Ladies Lounge is as much a piece of performance art as it is a gallery space. The judge was not convinced, and Kaechele announced the museum would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. 

In the meantime, Kaechele has resorted to the bathroom. Two Picasso paintings are now on view in the black marble room. “There is a fabulous toilet coming to the Ladies Lounge, and so in that sense, the Ladies Lounge will operate as a ladies’ room.” She said to Australian media outlets. “It’s a toilet that is celebrated the world round. It is the greatest toilet, and men won’t be allowed to see it.” 

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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