Throughout history, women in the arts have perpetually been misheard, misrepresented and misunderstood. They sit comfortably as subjects, muses and as the more modern day derogative Sex and The City-esque ‘gallerinas’, but achieving success and esteem beyond this plateau seems to require extra effort in order to be taken seriously.

At this year’s Venice Biennale, women made up only 26 per cent of the represented artists at individual national pavilions. This disparity within the art world is the premise for the creation of JANIS, an ongoing project by Sydney-based artist Kelly Doley. The project supports female art practice via a series of exhibitions, publications and talks. JANIS I was held earlier this year at Alaska Projects and included sculptural and performance-based works, as well as discussions and a publication featuring writing from a diverse range of female contributors.

The second installation in the series, JANIS II, will be co-hosted by Redfern and Chippendale spaces The Commercial and MCLEMOI galleries and co-curated by Doley and Amanda Rowell. Showcasing the work of five female artists, including rare pieces by the late Jenny Christmann and new work by Bonita Bub, Sarah Goffman and Gail Hastings, the exhibition will also play host to the unique and limited edition one-on-one performance piece Act Natural by Sarah Rodigari.

As to why the project has been given the name of singer songwriter Janis Joplin – Doley says, “She was uninhibited and took up a lot of space. And as women, I think we all need to take up more space in our own individual ways.”

Female-specific exhibitions and initiatives might be seen to be endorsing a gender divide, but their value and necessity lies in their ability to reaffirm the importance of women’s contribution to art in the past, the present and moving forward into the future.

JANIS II opens this Friday July 26 at both The Commercial and MCLEMOI galleries and runs until August 17. To reserve and purchase a viewing of Sarah Rodigari’s Act Natural, please contact info@mclemoi.com.

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