18 August 2006

Guerrilla Girls

In 1985, a group of women artists founded the Guerrilla Girls. They assumed the names of dead women artists and wore gorilla masks in public, concealing their identities and focusing on the issues rather than their personalities. Between 1985 and 2000, close to 100 women, working collectively and anonymously, produced posters, billboards, public actions, books and other projects to make feminism funny and fashionable. At the turn of the millennium, three separate and independent incorporated groups formed to bring fake fur and feminism to new frontiers:

Guerrilla Girls, Inc., www.guerrillagirls.com, was established by two founding Guerrilla Girls and other members to continue the use of provocative text, visuals and humor in the service of feminism and social change. They have written several books and create projects about the art world, film, politics and pop culture. They travel the world, talking about the issues and their experiences as feminist masked avengers, reinventing the “f” word into the 21st century.

Guerrilla Girls On Tour, Inc., www.guerrillagirlsontour.com, is a touring theatre collective founded by three former members of the Guerrilla Girls. GGOT develops new and original plays, performances and workshops, street theatre actions and residency programs that dramatize women’s history and address the lack of opportunities for women and artists of color in the performing arts.

GuerrillaGirlsBroadBand, Inc., www.ggbb.org, was formed by a founding Guerrilla Girl, four former members of the Guerrilla Girls, and a bevy of young, next-generation feminists and artists of color. “The Broads” combat sexism, racism and social injustice, exploring such taboo subjects as feminism and fashion and discrimination in the wired workplace through their website and live interactive activist events.

Q. What was the response to your earliest actions?

Anais Nin: There was skepticism, shock, rage, and lots of talk. It was the Reagan 80's and everyone was crazed to succeed, nobody wanted to be perceived as a complainer. Hardly any artists had the guts to attack the sacred cows. We were immediately THE topic at dinner parties, openings, even on the street. Who were these women? How do they dare say that? And what do their facts say about the art world? Women artists loved us, almost everyone else hated us, and none of them could stop talking about us.

Q. What have you done since then?

GG1: One poster led to another, and we have done more than sixty examining different aspects of sexism and racism in our culture at large, not just the art world. We've received thousands of requests for them and they've found their way all over the world. Museums and libraries have collected entire portfolios. We've spoken to large audiences at museums and schools on four continents, sometimes at the invitation of institutions and individuals we have attacked.


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