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The Guerrilla paradox

Guerrilla Girls poster

Guerrilla Girls poster


In 1985 the Guerrilla Girls exploded onto the art scene in protest of the male-dominated exhibition An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where out of the 169 artists represented, only 13 were female. Since then they have worked tirelessly and humorously to redress this underrepresentation of women artists in major collections. This year they said;

… In 2011, we did our latest recount. We were sure things had improved, but surprise! Only 4% of the artists in the Modern and Contemporary sections were women, but 76% of the nudes were female. Fewer women artists, more naked males. Is this progress? Guess we can’t put our masks away yet. (source: The Interview Magazine, article by Christopher Bollan)

So now you get the gist of their work – which I wholeheartedly applaud and in time of increasing conservatism in art the Guerrilla Girls action is arguably more important than ever. But the irony of the situation is that the ‘output’ of their cause, and I’m talking about the actual posters here, now appear in several major collections while the issue they set out to change remains unchanged.

It’s paradoxical, though not a new phenomenon in art – where an idea becomes second to the product (the Mexican Mural MovementDiego RiveraBanksy are but a few examples) and an institution purchases and consumes peoples’ convictions and beliefs and hangs them on the wall as art without batting an eyelid. Or obviously, getting the actual message. Duh …

… so, if your are like me – beating your head in frustration and disbelief – that in 2012 women are still so underrepresented and misrepresented in contemporary art museums globally, be thankful for the Guerrillas amongst us and then, take a breath and have a peek at this site. It will make you feel just a tiny bit better.

Meanwhile check out the Guerrilla Girls Facebook page and website (which really needs an overhaul). This link gives a good overview of their motivation and operation.


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