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ACMI Goddess: Power Glamour Rebellion

‘Dangerous designs’ featuring kimonos for Kiyoha (Anna Tsuchiya) in Sakuran (2006). Photo: Eugene Hyland.

Celina Lei, Celebrating Goddesses of screen culture through fashion and glam, Arts Hub, 6 April 2023

Female screen icons and local women leaders gathered at the red carpet opening of ACMI’s ‘Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion’. 

Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion is perhaps the most anticipated exhibition programmed at ACMI this year. It brings together material from over 120 years of screen culture to spotlight female icons and the ‘Goddess’ as a provocation.

Geena Davis and Madeline di Nonno, President and CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at ACMI’s ‘Goddess’ opening. Photo: Lucas Dawson.

First conceived five years ago, the exhibition was launched with a red carpet event at ACMI on Tuesday evening (4 April).

ArtsHub briefly spotted Hollywood actress and the exhibition’s ambassador, Geena Davis, during the red carpet arrivals, though she apparently departed before the crowd made it into the exhibition.

Davis was also the keynote speaker at ACMI’s Being Seen on Screen: The Importance of Representation conference on 5 April. Check out Screenhub’s write-up here.

Also attending the exhibition’s opening night were some notable powerful local women leaders, including scholar and author of Chokepoint Capitalism, Rebecca Giblin, arts and culture advocate and editor of Meanjin, Esther Anatolitis, Director of TarraWarra Museum of Art, Dr Victoria Lynn and more.

Some of Melbourne’s favourite queens also mingled at the event, including Scarlette So Hung Son (artist Scotty So), Aysha Buffet (Rian Difuntorum) and Ruby Slippers.

TV personalities such as MasterChef Australia judge Melissa Leong and the former co-host of Nine Network’s breakfast TV program, Lisa Wilkinson, joined the throng.

Melbourne’s arts and screen crowd gathered at ACMI on opening night. Photo: ArtsHub.

Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion

Keen visitors from Melbourne’s arts, screen and culture scene rushed into ACMI’s downstairs exhibition space, to be greeted with the bold fuchsia tones of the opening display, ‘Channelling Marilyn’.

The exhibition begins with Monroe-inspired costumes that have been worn by diverse performers, juxtaposed with snippets of scenes from Monroe’s own film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and also the TV series Gossip Girl (2007-2012) and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020).

ACMI’s ‘Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion’. Installation view. Photo: Eugene Hyland.

This grouping of fashion, costume and moving image continues throughout the exhibition, with posters, sketches, photographs and magazines accompanying the displays.

Goddess will also present a breadth of programming, including after-hours tours and immersive Goddess Nights. Two film programs, Divine Trailblazers and Goddess Sundays spotlight contemporary actors and formidable on-screen personas.

Furthermore, ACMI will screen an exclusive season of Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-PowerNina Menkes’ documentary examining the pervasiveness of the male gaze in film, starting 13 April.

Section display ‘Gender Avengers’ as part of ACMI’s ‘Goddess’ exhibition, installation view. Photo: ArtsHub.

‘Breaking the Binary’ features costumes for Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp) and Orlando (Tilda Swinton) in ‘Orlando’. Photo: ArtsHub.

‘Daughter of the Dragon’ features costumes for Tu Tuan (Anna May Wong) in ‘Limehouse Blues’ (1934) and Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close) in ‘102 Dalmatians’ (2000). Photo: ArtsHub.

At left: Marilyn Monroe’s white ‘souffle’ dress from ‘Some Like it Hot‘ (1959), designed by Orry-Kelly. Photo: ArtsHub. At right: Josephine Baker and ‘Vogue’ cover of Zendaya, installation view. Photo: ArtsHub.

‘Flipping Dress Codes and Gender Expectations’ features Marlene Dietrich’s white tuxedo (1959) and Billy Porter’s Tony Awards outfit in 2019. Photo: Eugene Hyland.

Installation view, ‘Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion’ at ACMI. Photo: ArtsHub.

Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion is on view at ACMI until 1 October, before touring internationally.

See also:

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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