The Guerrilla Girls are the feminist girl-band incarnation of Banksy, described as an anonymous activist group who highlight discrimination in the art world. It’s rare that I find a particular series or artist that communicates a message I really relate to and empathise with, whilst also possessing an air of wit and humour, making me smile and internally declare “I like that”, but the Geurrilla Girls’ work did just that. They’re like a modern-day art-world mysterious superhero trio.
Their first first posters were fly-posted overnight across the fashionable New York district of Soho, and they have since targeted museums, dealers, curators and critics, and displayed their work as advertisements on city buses. Their attacks on sexism have since expanded into other areas including social, racial and gender-based inequality. They wear gorilla masks when making public appearances, using the names of iconic deceased artists and writers as pseudonyms.
“…mainly, we wanted the focus to be on the issues, not on our personalities or our own work.”
This disguise also protects them from the backlash of anti-feminists and prominent individuals within the art community. I understand the need to protect their identities when making such bold and anarchist statements in their art, when so many feminists are still attacked in society and accused of being feminist because they “struggle to find men” or are “bitter towards the male race”. There is still such a stigma around the prospect that feminists can both be feminist and be attractive and successful women, so this disguise allows for the focus to be entirely on their imagination and wit, rather than their make up and hair, which so many women are patronised and judged for, despite these things having nothing to do with a female’s worth.
This was my favourite poster of 8 displayed alongside each other at the Tate Modern Media Networks displays, featuring the Feminism in Media and Systems and Communication exhibitions. It was such a varied and well thought out exhibit with many different aspects and great artists displaying their work, so if you get the chance I’d really recommend going to see it. I discovered several artists I hadn’t seen work by before that were really inspiring and who I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for in the future.