Thursday, November 29, 2007
7:00 p.m. – The Depot
The Guerrilla Girls are feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders, like Wonder Woman and Batman. They use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture. Co-sponsored by Women’s Studies and The Zatae Longsdorff Women’s Center.
Issue in Context
Sexism and racism are pervasive throughout the world of art and popular culture. Women artists and artists of color are greatly under-represented in art museums. In the National Gallery of Art, 98% of the artists displayed are male and 99.9% are white. Galleries and art collectors generally buy art from white men and when they do buy art from women or artists of color, it often ends up hidden in the gallery’s storage facility.
Women and people of color are also under-acknowledged and under-appreciated in the film industry. A female director has never won an Oscar and only three have ever been nominated. In all of the Oscars for acting, only 3% have gone to people of color.
The film and music industries continue to portray women as sexual objects or in a stereotypical fashion without depth of character. In films, women are often either dressed in revealing outfits or play roles such as that of the “Old Maid.” Certain lyrics in music are also derogatory towards women, cheapening them by referring to women as “sluts” and “hoes.”
The feminist movement is taking action to reverse this discrimination in today’s society and end misogyny, the fear of or hostility towards women. Feminists employ a variety of protest and educational methods to raise public awareness and elicit action for change.
About the Performers
The Guerrilla Girls, founded in 1985, are a group of feminist masked avengers who work to achieve equality of the sexes and “races” in art, politics, film, and popular culture. The group is comprised of almost 100 female artists who wear gorilla masks in public and take on the names of deceased female artists. The Guerrilla Girls hide their identities to ensure that the focus is on the issues that they are presenting and not on their personalities.
In order to raise awareness of the issues of discrimination, inequality, sexism, and racism, the Guerrilla Girls employ humor supported by indisputable facts. They create posters, billboards, books, stickers and other visuals that incorporate this humor in a manner that draws attention, informs observers, and incites a will to change. The Guerrilla Girls also travel throughout the world to participate in protests and to speak with audiences about their work. Recent books written by the Guerrilla Girls include The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art (1998), Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Guide to Female Stereotypes (2003) and The Guerrilla Girls’ Art Museum Activity Book (2004). Each of these books seeks to highlight the sexism and racism that have pervaded American culture and history.
As in guerrilla warfare, the Guerrilla Girls can appear at any time, in any place, fighting for the cause of equality in today’s society.