An art exhibition by women for women – only for women. A man in Australia felt so discriminated against that he went to court. The man had visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania in April 2022 when he was refused entry to the “Ladies Lounge” exhibition. On its website, the museum describes the exhibition as a “tremendously lavish space” where women can indulge in “decadent appetizers, fancy drinks and other ladylike pleasures – hosted and entertained by a fabulous butler.”

The fact that the “Ladies Lounge” denies men entry is part of the art, Kaechele said in court. In this way, men should get an impression of the discrimination and exclusion that many women have experienced in the past. Kaechele believes that women deserve “both equal rights and special privileges in the form of unequal rights” in reparation for historical injustices.

The Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found in favor of the plaintiff. MONA has to open the exhibition to “people who do not identify as women” within 28 days. In its ruling, the court recognized that the art exhibition “has a markedly participatory component that is intentionally discriminatory – for an artistic purpose that many not only appreciate but even endorse or support.” However, this is not compatible with the Australian Anti-Discrimination Act of 1998, as the law also “does not per se permit discrimination for an artistic purpose”.

During the trial, Kaechele and her supporters wore matching dark blue suits and coordinated their movements. The artist described the “Ladies Lounge” in court as “a peaceful space where women can retreat, a sanctuary where they can think clearly and enjoy the pure company of women.”

How the museum will now deal with the verdict is still unclear. On Instagram it posted a photo of a hand with a raised middle finger wearing the artist’s initials (“KK”) as a bracelet and referred to the written verdict of the court case. Kaechele had announced in an earlier interview with ABC that the exhibition would have to be closed if the court found in favor of the plaintiff. According to the artist, it will not happen that the “Ladies Lounge” will also be accessible to men.

Sources: CNN, “The Guardian”