In 17th and 18th century France, salons were hosted by women and for women as spaces to exchange ideas, receive and give criticism, somewhat like an informal university for women. During this time, these women’s salons were influential in the emergence of the ‘public sphere’. In Passing draws on this history, creating salons for women to exchange ideas and experiences of public space and influence it’s ongoing development today.

To do so, a call out has been made for 20 diverse Coburg and Coburg North women to act as ‘salonnières’ to host one pass-the-parcel game each during the month of October. Each salonnière will be encouraged to invite 8 women from their immediate neighbourhood to their salon.

These pass-the-parcel salons, occurring in lounge rooms or parks, will create opportunities for women to share their own experiences of public space through a series of facilitated activities. At the same time, by creating opportunities to connect with neighbours, the sense of community and care will be strengthened across the suburb.

The two-hour salon will involve a game of pass-the-parcel. Each layer will involve a different activity designed to provoke conversations about serious issues in a light-hearted, non-threatening and constructive manner. This includes, for example, examining our own responses to lewd comments, studying the art of penis graffiti, giving voice to objectified billboard models, considering women’s physical use of space, and so on.

By the end of the games, the 150 women participants will have a delved into and questioned the subliminal, and sometimes explicit, messaging encountered on a daily basis in public space. Participants will come away from the conversations with individual and group intentions about how they will challenge the social norms around gender, power and pubic space.

Salonnières

Salonnières will attend a pass-the-parcel training session prior to hosting their salon. During the training, salonnières will receive guidance to ensuring a safe, stimulating and fun space for the women involved. They will also receive a salonnière kit, which will include tea, biscuits, invitations for their participants, instructions and their pass-the-parcel parcel. The parcel will provide the format of the conversations, offering a familiar playful and light-hearted structure, without the hosts having to feel high responsibility for guiding the conversations.

If you are interested in being a salonnière or participating in a salon, please get in touch with Asha – hello@ashabeeabraham.com / 0468 794 235.