Guerrilla Girls In Context

This month the GRAM is showing works from their collection In Context. I was invited to reflect on two pieces by the Guerrilla Girls. Here are the pieces i covered, and what I wrote.


Get Naked Poster (2)

 

Guerrilla Girls (American, active since 1985)

Get Naked Poster, 2012

Poster

12 x 26 inches

 

Self described Culture Jammers, the Guerrilla Girls, have been questioning the role of museums, collectors, and arts institutions for over 30 years. Their works often claim public spaces as a platform for dialogue and activism, using humor and facts to bring to light lack of fair representation in cultural institutions. Displayed both as a handbill and a billboard, this image intentionally embraces marketing methods that are inherently dominating, marrying humor and fact to remind the viewer that the lack of representation by women in the Metropolitan Museum is appalling.

 

By placing a mask on the figure, a representation of Ingres’s Odalisque, the image takes on another layer of meaning, disrupting the stereotypical notion of the role of the female body in traditional European art and popular culture. No longer is this woman’s beauty stereotypical, her new ferocious beauty criticizes and transcending the status quo.

 

Unfortunately, the Guerrilla Girls’ question (and answer) are just as relevant 30 years after they were first assembled. Upon leaving the GRAM today, ask yourself, “As individuals and as a community, how do WE change the narrative of gross underrepresentation at the local level? How do we DEMAND cultural institutions feature women, LGBTTQQIAAP, and communities of color?” In the words of Guerrilla Girl Frida Khalo, “Art should look like the whole of our culture.”

 


Advantages Poster (2)

Guerrilla Girls (American, active since 1985)

Advantages Poster, 1988

Poster

17 x 22 inches

 

Striking, bold, and whip-smart “Advantages Poster” responded to criticism that works previously released by the Guerrilla Girls were too negative. The New York City art establishment found their previous, 1985 feminist street art posters proclaiming “Women in America earn only 2/3 of what men do. Women artists earn only 1/3 of what men do,” and asking, “How many women had one-person exhibitions at NYC Museums last year?“ to be offensive. In response, the Guerrilla Girls changed tactics, embracing the inequality women artists face, and creating this piece. Almost 30 years later, “Advantages Poster” is the most requested and reproduced image created by the Guerrilla Girls. The riotous message shared in this work isn’t exclusive to the art world; it is about women’s lives as the overlooked, underpaid, minimized “other” half of the human race. In the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Women’s rights are human rights.”

Protest art like the posters of the Guerrilla Girls proclaim injustices, inspire hope for change, and challenge us to be better humans. Isn’t it time that we expect results?


 

Since completing the project and seeinf the show I can’t stop wondering how as community members, and supporters of the institutions how do WE change the narrative of gross underrepresentation at the local level? How do we DEMAND cultural institutions feature women, LGBTTQQIAAP, and communities of color? I want to see more diverse exhibitions everywhere, always- full stop.

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