Melbourne, like many cities around the world, frames its identity through the narratives of a select few, placing bronze sculptures throughout the CBD to celebrate their contribution to the city’s identity. With the exception of the Women’s Suffrage Monument near Parliament House, and the monument currently being planned for the RMIT campus, which will commemorate Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner – the two Tasmanian Indigenous men to be hung publically outside the Old Melbourne Gaol, these narratives tend to be those of white European men. However, as Jean-François Lyotard pointed out in his1979 essay The Postmodern Condition, while these state-sanctioned metanarratives are important to a city’s identity, it is the ‘petits récits’, or small narratives, which actually give us an insight into the true makeup of place. Petits récits are first person narratives, which generally reflect a small or single event.
In his book Mobilities, sociologist John Urry argues that power relations determine when and where different social groups walk; consequently, it could be argued that the lack of female narratives in our cities’ public spaces contribute to women’s lack of comfort in such locales, as it appears as if they belong to men. The I Was Here project proposes to momentarily change this by creating guerrilla monuments to the women of Melbourne by filling certain public spaces with short narratives – the petits récits – of the women that use Melbourne’s public spaces on a daily basis.