Smash The Patriarchy is a feminist reconceptualisation of the classic fairground game, known as: Test Your Strength, High Striker or the Strongman Game. This interactive sculpture subverts the traditional version that aims to measure the arm strength of the participant. Instead of presenting increasing numerical measurements that ascend the high striker board, Smash The Patriarchy portrays empowering feminist messages.
By incorporating sewing needles and hairpins as functional tools within the sculpture, I also attempt to subvert their traditional uses as tools only for female use/activities (craft/sewing etc.). The task of the two sewing needles, positioned upright and protruding from the chaser, is to pop the ‘patriarchy’ party balloon at the top of the high striker. The balloon is secured using two hairpins, and replaces the traditional bell. The wooden splash is carved at the top of the high striker to represent the melting wood reacting to a popping balloon, instead of a ringing bell. Using two of each tool is inspired by the feminist theory of Luce Irigaray (1985), where she proposes that we think not for One (as conditioned by the phallogocentric structures of thought), but for two (as Irigaray suggests is possible by thinking through the labial).
Smash The Patriarchy reflects a continuation of my feminist artistic practice of resistance, where I explore a process of melting to convey a transformation of the mechanics of solids into the dynamics of fluids. Through this process of melting wood, the strongman game is recreated with feminist sensibilities. This feminist reconceptualisation forms a challenge to the traditional idea that the strongman game is only for men to use to test their strength. Smash The Patriarchy encourages participants to engage with the feminist ideas of becoming a feminist killjoy, popping the patriarchy party balloon, and invites everyone to have a go and swing it like a girl!