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Humor and Activism: Guerrilla Girls

In this video, Melanie Manos explores the intersection of humor and activism with the example of the Guerrilla Girls.
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<v ->In this video, learners will get an overview</v> of artists and activists addressing gender bias from various perspectives and forms of media focusing on the Guerilla Girls, an artist activists collective. Suzanne Lacy, an independent artist who works collaboratively and with community participation, and Shirin Neshat, an independent solo artist. The Guerilla Girls are feminist activist artists who publicly expose gender and ethnic bias in the art world, as well as in politics, film, and pop culture. As you see here outside an exhibition at White Chapel Gallery, London, they wear gorilla mass for public appearances. They also use pseudonyms of deceased women artists, both to maintain their own anonymity and to pay homage to those artists.
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In this image, do women you have to be naked to get into the Met Museum? 1989, the Guerilla Girls utilize and appropriate both the form and design style of advertising similar to that of a public service animal. The work which they’ve referred to as the “Poster that Changed It All,” has been a billboard, a wall poster, and a mobile advertisement, and the statistics are revisited every few years. You see here it says, “Less than 5% of the artists in the modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female” based on statistics from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1989. A recount in 2012 showed the first number down to 4% women artists and the second, 76% of nudes.
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This image also references European paintings of 16th century and later by male artists such as Titian and Manet that are frequently held as art historical references without mention of the male gaze. In these print works the tone is humorous and quite sarcastic, but the message is hard-hitting, fact-based, and highly informative. Also in a public service announcement form handed out as printed flyers to participants at the College Art Association’s annual conference. “Sorry Sweetie. Way to Go, Dude!” calls out specific art departments at major colleges and universities comparing faculty statistics by gender and salary which heavily weigh in favor of men. The flyer also notes the student body in all but one department is majority female.
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The Guerilla Girls continue to make new work and surprise appearances globally that call out racism, sexism, and economic exclusion by institutions, businesses, collectors, and even artists themselves. As they note on GuerillaGirls.com, ‘Blasting them on their own walls for their bad behavior and discriminatory practices.”

The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists who publicly expose gender and ethnic bias in the art world using pop culture aesthetics and advertising formats.

They wear guerrilla masks for public appearances and use pseudonyms of deceased women artists to maintain their own anonymity and to pay homage to those artists. View more on The Guerrilla Girls’ website.

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Visualizing Women's Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice

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