On this day in 2018, the Guerrilla Girls opened their infamous Beyond the Streets LA exhibition.
The Guerrilla Girls formed nearly 40 years ago. Made up of anonymous women artists, they came into prominence with a mission to fight sexism and racism within visual art, film, politics and pop culture. Wearing gorilla masks to conceal their identities, the Guerrilla Girls use engaging headlines, posters, books, billboards and public appearances to expose corruption and injustice.
“Beyond the Streets is an exhibition focused on celebrating the radical street art movement…”
Beyond the Streets is an exhibition focused on celebrating the radical street art movement by showcasing the best graffiti and street art creators.
One highlight of Beyond the Streets was a collection of the Guerrilla Girls’ feminist street posters, which contained messages like this:
“What do these [male] artists have in common?”
“They allow their work to be shown in galleries that show no more than 10% women artists or none at all.”
Usually containing some bit of humor, other posters state “The advantages of being a woman artist” above a list that includes “having an escape from art with your 4 free-lance jobs,” and “not being stuck in a tenured teaching position” to highlight the discrepancies between what male and female artists are afforded throughout their careers.
“The Art of Behaving Badly is visual; its narrative is unassuming, small type and text directly describing the flyer, billboard, or banner…”
Recently, the Guerrilla Girls released The Art of Behaving Badly, an acclaimed book containing highlights of the group’s projects over the years. In an article for FF2, Katherine Factor described the Guerrilla Girls’ collection: “The book is visual; its narrative is unassuming, small type and text directly describing the flyer, billboard, or banner. There’s no analysis in this book; the art is the analysis. Other than typography and layout, the power is in the message. We are reminded all art is political, even when the viewer doesn’t see it…or the artist or gallery doesn’t want it to be.”
Katherine continues: “The Art of Behaving Badly progresses chronologically, letting the power of the Guerilla Girls’ work evolve and accumulate for the reader, who will see the timeline, what has changed, and eventually interact with the work. It becomes obvious that not enough has changed — yet — but at the very end of the book, readers are invited in to become agents of change. Indeed, we are given a cut-out actual gorilla mask and as a final note, we are told, ‘to just keep chipping away.’”
The Guerrilla Girls have been artfully chipping away at social issues for decades as they “upend the art world’s notion of what’s good and what’s right.”
Celebrate their legacy with us today!
© Anna Nappi (5/6/22) Special for FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Katherine’s FF2 post on The Art of Behaving Badly.
Find more calendar highlights on the Guerrilla Girls website.
“In 1989, the Public Art Fund in New York commissioned the Guerrilla Girls, a collective of feminist artists who maintain their anonymity by wearing gorilla masks in public, to design a billboard. They visited The Met to compare the number of women artists represented in the modern art galleries with the number of naked female bodies featured in the artworks on display. They included the statistics in a poster that asked, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” The Public Art Fund ultimately rejected it as a billboard, citing reasons of lack of clarity, so the Guerrilla Girls found an alternate public venue for their design: New York City’s buses… The Guerrilla Girls reissued the poster in 2005 and 2012, attesting to its continued resonance.”
Click here to learn more about the Guerrilla Girls’ iconic “Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum?” poster first seen on NYC buses in 1989.
Note that FF2 Media is on record as providing financial support to the Guerrilla Girls since 2005 & graduating to more aggressive activism beginning in 2006!
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo downloaded from the Guerrilla Girls’ website.
Guerrilla Girls at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Cropped from photo taken by Eric Huybrechts on 8/8/14 (posted in accordance with permission provided by Wikimedia Commons).