Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into The Met. Museum? 2012
Artist: Guerrilla Girls
First produced by Guerrilla Girls in 1989, this was the poster that changed it all! Asked to design a billboard for the Public Art Fund in New York, Guerrilla Girls welcomed the chance to do something that would appeal to a general audience. They went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to count the number of women artists on exhibit compared to the number of naked female bodies in the art works. The results were very revealing. The Public Art Fund rejected it as a billboard claiming it wasn’t ‘clear enough’, so Guerrilla Girls ran it as an ad on New York City busses instead. The rest is history. Since Naked first appeared on New York City buses it has graced hundreds of books, streets, museums and countless dormitory rooms.
The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists. They wear gorilla masks in public and use facts, humour and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture. Their anonymity keeps the focus on the issues and away from who they might be; they could be anyone and are everywhere.
‘We believe in an intersectional feminism that fights discrimination and supports human rights for all people and all genders. We undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked and the downright unfair. We have done hundreds of projects (posters, actions, books, videos, stickers) all over the world. We also do interventions and exhibitions at museums, blasting them on their own walls for their bad behaviour and discriminatory practices. . . What’s next: More creative complaining! More interventions! More resistance!
Guerrilla Girls say that women’s rights, civil rights, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender rights and black lives matter are the great human rights movements of our times. According to Guerrilla Girls, ‘feminists who believe in intersectionality, fight for all human rights. No-one is free until everyone is free. Feminism is changing the world . . but there is still so much work to do’. They cite the gender pay gap, the continuing violence, sexual abuse and gender stereotyping that are still major issues in every country in the world, the lack of proper sentencing for violence against women, the lack of support for transgender employees, the abuse in the tech industry and the harassment that women gamers experience, and the continuation of slavery. But feminism is gaining support ‘let’s make the F word feminism, the f word for the future and let’s all join with feminists on the right side of history’.
According to the Guerrilla Girls guide to behaving badly, ‘Let’s make trouble together. Be crazy. Political art or activism that points to something and says ‘this is bad’, is just preaching to the converted. Instead, try to change people’s minds and do it in some unforgettable way. A trick we learned is that humour helps you fly under the radar. If you can get people who disagree with you to laugh at an issue, you have a huck right into their brain and once there you have a much better chance to convert them’.
Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality extend a special thanks to Guerrilla Girls for the fabulous work they do and for the use of this exhibition.
Copyright @ Guerrilla Girls.