Penelope Harrall

Struggle Sessions

Along with fellow artist Gaganpreet Gil Kaur we have been exploring a new project ‘My Struggle Sessions’. Taking inspiration for the original sturggle sessions that happened in Tibet, they were a form of humiliation and torture used by the communist party of china in the Mao Zedong era (1945 - 1976) however the occasional illegal struggle sessions has happened since. The victim of a struggle session was forced to admit to various crimes before a crowd of people who would verbally and physically abuse the victim untill he or she confessed. 

 Using this as inspiration ‘My Struggle Sessions’ will explore our own personal inner stuggles and express them in public. Struggles we have due to society and how we feel within ourselves. It will become a series of performances around the city of Perth, stay tuned for more information to come.

An International Meat Platter

As I was sitting on a $2,000 sofa in a private karaoke room in the centre of Perth, surrounded by beautiful girls of all different shapes, sizes and colours all I could do was envision each one as a piece of meat. Serving ourselves up to the intoxicated men that come into the room, the juicier your steak the more their mouth would water - we were their own international meat platter. 

 Lining up and introducing yourself;  Hi, I’m Mia from France, Sarah from Australia, they did not care where you were from, they were not interested in your name, they cared what you had to offer. How much of a display your piece of meat was on. Now before you go getting the wrong end of the stick this was not a brothel. We were not offering sex in anyway shape or form (our meat curtains were safely out of harms way), we were there to pour them drinks and make sure their evening was going well, that was it. 

Before being blessed with their company however they had to ‘chose’ us. Girls fighting their way to the front, lining up like cattle, they would pick the best cut from the platter - Hi, I’m steak tartare and like butchers eyeing up their next piece of meat they would pick their meal and away you would go and spend the evening making sure their night was the best they could possibly imagine just so they would come back and pick you again. Then the next batch of butchers would come in, armed with a bottle of beer and their ‘best’ banter, slathering over the international platter. Hi, I’m 100% British beef steak, Chicken Schnitzel, at your service, Black Pudding, here for you, if your meat was smothered in bread crumbs or fried in too much oil, you had no chance. Girls had been there so long they had forgotten what it was like to be a girl, they hadn’t been treated with respect in so long they didn’t even know how to give it to each other. 

 But why put yourself through this humiliation I hear you say? It’s simple, money. Young, fresh off the boat cows are being exploited due to their low bank balance and lack of jobs in the city. Men are paid $25/$30 an hour for manual work the equivalent for women would be office work at $20 an hour, or a bar maid at $18. We still live in a world where women have to marinade their meat, hide their pork bellies, roast their duck and dress mutton up as lamb just to get noticed and paid. 

This is not a sexist rant against men nor is this a rant against our society, it is a mere observation of a world that I have never experienced before, a world hidden from view. We chose to ignore it and believe that we now live in a world of equality but I am here to tell you the sad truth, we do not. 

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