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Let's Not Forget the Guerrilla Girls

BY ROXY ALLNUTT

REINVENTING THE 'F' WORD: FEMINISM

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12 DEC - 2022

Do women have to be naked to get into the Met?

The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of artist-activists known for public and institutional protests against sexism, racism, and wealth inequality in the arts. Using provocative headlines, shocking visuals, and lethal statistics, they expose gender and ethnic bias against art, film, politics, and pop culture. Their work is motivated by a fundamental belief in intersectional feminism. They have protested, performed, taught, and exhibited internationally, including the Tate Modern in London and the MOMA of New York.

The all-female collective remains anonymous still to this day. However, after almost four decades of activism, they are still rattling the art world’s cages.

“We are a group of women artists and art professionals who fight discrimination. We’re the art world's art world's conscience, counterparts to the mostly male traditions of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger. We have produced over 80 posters, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in the art world and culture at large… We use humour to prove that feminists can be funny… We could be anyone; we are everywhere.”

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The Guerrilla Girls have made a name for themselves by their bravery. Humiliating institutions and artists into correcting their sexist mistakes. Their posters are bold, concise, and eye-catching, communicating with frank honesty. After establishing themselves as the queens of feminist art in the 1980’s, the Guerrilla Girls addressed other topics, such as racial discrimination in the arts and misogyny in the entertainment industry. The group has created over 90 posters, 3 books, and an immense number of stickers and printed goods that have been embedded into streets and minds worldwide.

Motto: Do one thing. If it works, do another. If it doesn’t, do another anyway. Keep chipping away.

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Today

Expanding on the art industry's sexist behaviour, the Guerrilla Girls are now using their platform as artists to raise attention to the issue of class as well. Many of their latest works draw attention to museums, art collectors, and art galleries who fail to pay decent salaries to their staff. Due to their exploitation, many of these workers are unable to pay their rent, utilities, or provide themselves with dependable transportation to and from work. The organisation hopes to expose the selfishness of many art institutions by tackling labour concerns in the art sector.

Harmful behaviours like everything mentioned above start at the top. Regardless of the potential backlash for criticising industry leaders, the Guerrilla Girls are unafraid to admit the art industry's shortcomings and advocate for institutional reform.


The Guerrilla Girls' most recent work is on the music industry. 'Do Women Have to Be Naked in Music Videos When 99% of the Guys are Dressed?', 2014. This poster is a 'remix' of a work created for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1989. Their candid and hilarious attitude remains a successful concept over 30 years later. The Guerrilla Girls do not remark on the careers of contemporary female artists.

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In another piece, a poster from 1990, their Guerrilla Girls pop quiz asks: “If February is black history month and March is women’s history month, what happens the rest of the year?” The answer: “Discrimination.”

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The Guerrilla Girls should never be forgotten.

This band of women have given voice to underrepreseents classes. A voice that has encouraged the New York art community to take notice which led to a global revolution.

According to Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly, New York museums and galleries are slowly improving the number of women artists included in exhibits and shows. It’s hard to imagine how things would be today without the noise genhertaed form this team.

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