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A Post-Human Reading of the Guerilla Girls Summary (Essay Sample)


Radicalising the past through present reading


A Post-Human Reading of the Guerilla Girls
Guerrilla Girls is an unnamed collective of feminists and women artists, dedicated to combating racism and sexism in the world of art. It was founded in New York City in 1984 aiming at bringing racial and gender discrimination to the attention of the larger arts society. This group was established following the Museum of Modern Art's An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture exhibition. While the exhibition was intended to showcase the world's leading artists, only 13 of the 169 artists featured were women. Since 1984, the Guerrilla Girls have worked to disclose racial and sexual inequality in the art world. To expose prejudice and corruption, the organization uses culture jamming in of books, banners, posters, and public appearances. Many anti-consumerist social movements use culture jamming (also known as guerrilla communication) as a form of agitation to disrupt media culture. It aims to "reveal the strategies of dominance" in a mass society. Members wear gorilla masks and use fake names which apply to dead female artists in order to maintain their anonymity.[Guerilla, Voina, and Guerilla Girls. "Burning Man." History 1, no. 1986 (1989).] [McDonald, Kelly Michael, and Sarah Taylor Partlow. "Guerilla Girls in Intercollegiate Debate: Testing the Liberal Model of the Public Sphere." Critical Problems in Argumentation (2003): 303-310.]
Soon after, the collective broadened its emphasis to incorporate prejudice in the world of art, bringing in artists of color. In addition, they ventured into projects beyond New York, which enabled them to discuss racism and sexism on a national and international scale.
Whereas the world of art has been the Guerrilla Girls' primary target, the objective of the group has also included racism and sexism in mass and popular culture, films and politics. During its early years, the group performed "weenie counts," in which participants visited museums and counted the ratio of men to women in artworks. In 1989, data collected from Met's public collections revealed that female artists formed not more than 10 per cent of the works in the Modern Art Department, whereas 80 percent of the nudes were women. Ultimate organizing was centered on meetings where participants analyzed analytical data collected about gender disparity in New York City's art scene. The Group have collaborated with musicians, urging them to talk to members of the group in order to tide over the gender divide where they saw it. When questioned regarding their masks, they explain, that they were guerillas prior to being gorillas. “The media has always requested for promotional pictures. We had to disguise ourselves. Nobody knows how we got our fur, but one legend has it that at an early meeting, an original female, a poor speller, wrote 'Gorilla' rather than 'Guerrilla.' It was a foresight error. It provided us with our 'mask-ulinity.’”[Mitášová, Monika. "Predstavujeme: Guerilla Girls-fakty, humor a umelá kožušina." Aspekt 01-02 (2002): 116-118.] [Kanatani, Kim, and Vas Prabhu. "Artists Comment on Museum Practices." Art Education 49, no. 2 (1996): 25-32.]
Since 1985, the Guerrilla Girls have advocated for greater sexism recognition and transparency on the side of art dealers, curators, critics and collectors. Above all, the collective is credited with igniting debate and drawing awareness to matters of racism and sexism in the arts. Lucy Lippard, a creative feminist, selected a female-only demonstration in 1975, primarily criticizing what many saw as a highly defective solution, that of simply absorbing women into the commanding art culture. They vowed to formulate fresh tactics. Most notably, they found that tools of the 1970 era like picket lines were counterproductive. They pursued a different solution that would disprove stereotypes of feminists of the ages of 1970 as strident, misandry, devoid of humor, and anti-maternal. They followed 1970s policies, but in a different language and style, since they were well-versed in poststructuralist theories. Earlier feminists confronted bleak and unfunny topics like sexual harassment, encouraging the girls to hold their psyche up by treating their work with shrewdness and amusement, while avoiding a negative reaction by people.[Leeson, Lynn Hershman. "! Women Art Revolution." (2013).]
The Guerrilla Girls have received recognition for their daring demonstration art throughout their lifetime. Their projects share observations, fears, and ideals about a wide range of social issues. They combine facts with funny images to making their posters more visually appealing. The collective has also received public commissions and indoor exhibits.[Fox, Genevieve. "Guerilla girls: conscience of the art world: symposium for women artists & the environment, Dublin, June 1991." Women's Art Magazine 42 (1991): 13-14.]
The Guerrilla Girls devoted advertising's visual language, especially fly-posting, to communicate their messages quickly and easily. They hung their first posters in the middle of the night on SoHo streets. The first posters were mostly white and black handouts outlining differences between female and male artists in terms of exhibits, gallery recognition, and compensation. Their posters exposed the art world's sexism in contrast to other sectors and national averages. Oftentimes, these early posters were directed at particular galleries or artists. The posters, which combined bold block text with lists and figures collected by the Girls or revised from established sources like museum studies and art magazines, identified New York galleries with less than 10% female artists and prominent male artists who permitted their work to be seen in galleries with little to no female work.[Lindner, Ines. "Prickelnd bis ätzend: Interventionsstrategien der Guerilla Girls." FKW//Zeitschrift für Geschlechterforschung und visuelle Kultur 15, no. 18 (1994).]
Their 1989 poster, taken from their first "weenie count," was the Guerrilla Girls' first color poster and is their most evocative image. In response to the many female naked visitors to the Modern Art sections of the Met, the poster asks satirically, "Must women be naked to enter the Met?" This message is alongside a picture of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres's La Grande Odalisque, a popular female naked painting in Western art history, having a gorilla head superimposed on the original face.[Kanatani, Kim, and Vas Prabhu. "Artists Comment on Museum Practices." Art Education 49, no. 2 (1996): 25-32.]
In 1991, they created a hoarding depicting the Mona Lisa installed along the West Side Highway. They invaded Guggenheim Soho restrooms, slapping stickers depicting gender injustice on the walls. Guerrilla Girls West insisted on lack of visibility of female artists at San Jose Museum of Art in 1998.
They released 30 posters in a profile titled Guerrilla Girls Talk Back in 1987. “We Sell White Bread”, in particular, was created to eventually broaden their emphasis, addressing matters of racial disparity in the world of art. The illustration on the poster appeared as take out stickers on gallery doors and windows in 1987. The galleries preferred white, male artists, according to the poster, adding that it accomodates less than the required regular condition of white and non-white women."[Magadla, Siphokazi. "Demobilisation and the civilian reintegration of women ex-combatants in post-apartheid South Africa: The aftermath of transnational guerrilla girls, combative mothers and in-betweeners in the shadows of a late twentieth-century war." (2017).]
The group was also an advocate for fair inclusion of females in institutional art, highlighting Louise Bourgeois in their 1988 poster "Importance of Becoming a Woman Artist," with one line reading, "Knowing your career does not pick up until you're 80."Additionally, their works are noteworthy for their use of aggressive comments for instance "What will your art collection be of importance when sexism and racism are no more popular?"[McDonald, Kelly Michael, and Sarah Taylor Partlow. "Guerilla Girls in Intercollegiate Debate: Testing the Liberal Model of the Public Sphere." Critical Problems in Argumentation (2003): 303-310.]
The Guerrilla Girls were "hailed by the very institution they tried to overthrow" when they made their debut in 1985. Since then, they have displayed at Tate Modern, the Centre Pompidou, and MoMA, allowing them to reach a wider crowd for their issues. This connection has grown stronger since then, with the Guerrilla Girls presenting exhibits in museums as well as allowing their efforts to be compiled by dominating institutions. While some have challenged the effectiveness, of the group's decision to house their archives at the Getty Institute, few will argue that it was a wise decision.
As the group’s popularity grew, pressure erupted, resulting in what was thereafter dubbed the "banana break," in which five individuals left the group. Soon after a few other individuals left to create Guerrilla Girls Broadband, “Kollwitz” and "Kahlo" progressed to market the name "Guerrilla Girls, Inc." to differentiate their domain from that of Guerrilla Girls BroadBand and Guerrilla Girls On Tour! whose primary concern is prejudice in the theater community. Despite the fact that their previous associate "Gertrude Stein" was in the tour party, " Kollwitz " and "Kahlo" threatened them with violation of trademark and copyright, as well as wrongful enrichment. Many group members felt particularly betrayed because " Kollwitz " and "Kahlo" had filed their complaint under thei...

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