ACMI to celebrate Women on Screen with world premiere 2023 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition: Goddess

ACMI-Goddess-Laverne-Cox-Marilyn-Monroe-Anna-May-WongACMI is set to pay tribute to the formidable women of the screen in next year’s world premiere Melbourne Winter Masterpieces blockbuster: Goddess – opening 5 April 2023, before the exhibition tours internationally.

Featuring never-before-seen costumes, cinematic treasures, interactive experiences and large-scale projections, this landmark ACMI-curated exhibition will unveil, examine and celebrate the changing representation of femininity across film history through provocative on-screen moments.

Presenting the daring, disruptive and defiant characters that have shaped our screen culture, the exhibition invites audiences to celebrate the power and complexity of the goddess on screen.

From the icons of the silent era to classic Hollywood heroines to cinema’s memorable villains and the stars of Bollywood blockbusters, Goddess is a powerful portrait of on-screen personas who have come to define and disrupt the feminine ideal.

Going behind the lens, Goddess will also examine the off-screen conversations – and even social rebellions – these portrayals often ignited, from the gender redefining sartorial statements of Marlene Dietrich in Morocco (1930) and Tilda Swinton in Orlando (1992) to Pam Grier’s boundary-breaking Blaxploitation film career.

The exhibition also looks at the impact of Elaine Crombie in Kiki and Kitty (2017) and Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey (2020) to today’s unfolding #MeToo movement and the expanded representations of womanhood found in India, China and Japan’s cinematic histories.

With lush costuming, immersive video works, evocative soundscapes by Melbourne-based composer Chiara Kickdrum and over 150 original objects, artworks, props and sketches on display – many of which have never been seen before in Australia – Goddess will consider how screen culture has shaped and challenged audiences’ views of gender and womanhood.

Showcasing Mae West’s sky-high heels in Belle of the Nineties (1934), the costumes worn by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in the iconic road movie Thelma & Louise (1991) and the rich detail of Michelle Yeoh’s fight-ready silks from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), the exhibition offers a fresh perspective on some of cinema’s most memorable female characters.

“We’re backing another world premiere, Australian-exclusive for Melbourne, with ACMI’s latest exhibition Goddess to celebrate game-changing women of the screen,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Steve Dimopoulos.

“Winter in Victoria already brings a spectacular offering of events and activities, with this latest addition drawing more visitors to discover everything there is to love about Melbourne,” said Minister Dimopoulos.

“The women of Goddess are bold, rebellious and defiant. Their power is expressed in numerous ways – in what they wear, how they move and the stories they tell,” said ACMI Director of Experience & Engagement, Dr Britt Romstad.

“ACMI’s exhibition honours their influence and daring and explores how they have transformed the face and expectations of on-screen femininity for audiences, time and time again,” said Dr Romstad.

A vibrant Goddess events program, including late-night exhibition access, performances, talks and film screenings, exhibition ambassadors and guests, will be announced in February 2023 when tickets go on sale. Join the mailing list to stay up to date with exhibition announcements.

Image: (L-R) Laverne Cox in Paper Magazine, 2020 – photo by © Joshua Kissi | Marilyn Monroe – image by Milton H. Greene, © Archive on behalf of Milton H. Greene | Anna May Wong – image courtesy of CPA Media Pte Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo