Culture //

A Knightess of a night

Phoebe Moloney previews the Women’s Collective’s annual performance night

An artwork by Madeleine Pfull, to be featured at Knightess

Knightess is a showcase of creative wom*n at USYD. The second performance night to be run by the Women’s Collective, this year’s Knightess will feature over 15 acts across a range of performative genres as well as visual-arts pieces, all created by Sydney University students with lived experience as a woman.

As Julia Readett, one of the event organisers, describes it: “Knightess is an opportunity to celebrate women in the arts and to raise awareness about the under-representation of women in all facets of artistic contributions: poetry, performance, music, comedy and art. It’s also just a great chance to just sit and listen and begin a conversation about what these performers are actually doing.”

Unfortunately, Australia is a nation where the occasion to enjoy wom*n’s creativity is not offered enough. A statement released last year by the Australian Council for the Arts reported that the numbers of women in creative leadership positions have fallen since the 80’s and 90’s, dropping to below 30% in 2010.

Stella Ktenas-Karver, one of the performers featured in this year’s Knightess, says that underrepresentation is an issue that extends from the inherently sexist attitude that underlies creative industries.

“Unfortunately sexism remains quite a common component of the arts. Females are stigmatised, we regulate them into only talking about ‘women’s issues’. Plays performed contain an abundance of dynamic male roles and few female roles of no real importance. A token female role relegated to ornament, mother, or whore.”

An artwork by Madeleine Pfull, to be featured at Knightess
An artwork by Madeleine Pfull, to be featured at Knightess

Furthermore, Ktenas-Karver maintains that the visibility of women-identifying artists is imperative to shifting societal attitudes.

“Wom*n must enjoy equal representation in the arts now so as to encourage change. If art and culture informs youth on equality, it will be that much easier tomorrow to demolish the sexism which pervades our society today.”

Jena Ye, visual artist and Knightess coordinator also sees the incorporation of the “female gaze” into artistic representation as necessary to encourage productive discussion surrounding feminine identities within a space where woman has been historically relegated to artistic subject or muse.

“This public discussion is becoming more often in Western society. We can see this with the recent Honi Soit cover, the Vagina 101 images and the well-known Vagina monologues. These sorts of creative productions direct attention to the female body with a strong feeling of female agency that has been absent for so long. This is one of the reasons why I’m so excited to be a part of Knightess.”

Knightess is an event open to people of all gender identities. The concert will begin a 7.30pm at Hermann’s Bar with entry by donation.