• News
  • Jun 25, 2024

Found “Discriminatory,” Women-Only Installation is Turned into Toilet

Kirsha Kaechele posing outside the Tasmania Supreme Court in Hobart. Courtesy Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart. 

On June 24, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania converted a segment of Kirsha Kaechele’s Ladies Lounge installation into a women’s bathroom stall to circumvent a court’s anti-discrimination ruling. The American artist posted the transformation on Instagram in a video showing several exhibited artworks by Pablo Picasso.

Kaechele—who is also the spouse of the MONA’s owner, billionaire David Walsh—first conceived Ladies Lounge as an opulent, women-only high tea event inside the museum, with tickets running for AUD 500 (USD 330) per pair. It opened in 2020, and along with featuring all-male butlers and lavish beverages, the Lounge also showcased works by the late Australian painter Sidney Nolan and international antiquities. 

Screenshot taken from Kirsha Kaechele’s Instagram, depicting a painting by Pablo Picasso within a lavatory stall.

In April 2023, the museum faced a lawsuit from New South Wales resident Jason Lau after he was barred from entering the women-only artwork, despite paying the museum entry fee. One year later, the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled the Lounge as discriminatory and ordered the MONA to begin admitting male visitors within 28 days. 

Kaechele appealed the decision to the state’s Supreme Court in May while considering a loophole to the order. In an interview with Kaechele published on the MONA’s blog, the artist shared ideas of turning the installation into either a church, a school, or a toilet, which are legal exceptions to gender discrimination laws. Kaechele ultimately chose the lattermost option.

Kaechele announced on her Instagram that she fully intends to “get the Lounge open again as a church / school / boutique glamping accommodation / facilities / etc under Section 26 of the Anti-Discrimination Act, but in the meantime, enjoy [ladies]!”

Camilla Alvarez-Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacific.

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