Just So F***ing Beautiful

Telling a story of female harassment in a public space – a new work for the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale: European Cultural Centre.

“Architects and designers are increasingly seeking to understand how gender-sensitive design can combat the spatial inequities faced by women and girls of all demographics, races and socio-economic groups.” – Dr Nicole Kalms

The XYX Lab’s installation, titled “Just So F***ing Beautiful”, features in the TIME – SPACE – EXISTENCE exhibition at Venice’s Palazzo Mora, May 26 to November 25, 2018. It is one of the major satellite shows held across the city in the Biennale.

The installation - a hypertext - literally ripples like skin might crawl. It tells a story of female harassment in a public space; an experience shared by over three-quarters of women across the world.  “Just so f***ing beautiful” is a whisper—a quiet, but frightening threat—that irreversibly made one young woman reassess her engagement with the city. It is a phrase from one of 600 comments about Melbourne city spaces.

The unique and provocative installation features large-scale letters in a unique font, specially designed to reflect the architraves and rich architectural details of the Palazzo Mora. Visitors move past the hypertext - suspended from the wall – as text is projected onto the installation and its surrounds.

Dr Kalms said, “Just so f***ing beautiful” makes the whisper tangible. It solidifies the predatory taunt into a tangible manifestation of a felt experience; and makes real the impact of a city’s capacity for exclusion.”

By exploring these stories, XYX Lab is calling on architects, designers and communities to tackle sexual harassment via gender-sensitive approaches to place-making.

The installation extends the XYX Lab’s ongoing global work with CrowdSpot and Plan International which looks at safe and unsafe areas of cities to address the design mechanisms that lead to social exclusion. Dr Kalms and exhibition co-collaborator, Monash University Designer Dr Gene Baldwin, say the installation complements the social activism in the #metoo and #timesup movements.

Dr Kalms and Dr Bawden's research is invested in the ways that architecture and design directly impact how people experience cities and public spaces. They believe that these experiences can be inspiring and uplifting, or isolating and terrifying.  The installation in Venice engages with the ways the built environment and our experiences stay with us long after we have left.

“Architects, designers, town planners and the community more broadly have the ability – and responsibility - to ensure our cities and spaces consider the perspectives and safety of all users.

“When addressing complex problems, such as unequal gendered experiences of city spaces, XYX Lab brings together diverse and underrepresented voices. Working with architects, designers, government officials, members of the law enforcement, social services and aligned researchers, we can co-create a shared vision of urban spaces where gender equity can thrive.”

“Just So F***ing Beautiful” highlights new ways of thinking about design. It responds to the Biennale Curators’ call to ‘encourage… new ways of seeing the world, of inventing solutions where architecture provides for the well-being and dignity of each citizen on the planet.’

Investigators
Dr Nicole Kalms
Dr Gene Bawden

Technical Advice and Project Management
Natalie Alima

Fabrication
Special Patterns