Members of the Guerrilla Girls, the feminist activist collective, pose in front of the Whitechapel Gallery in London to promote their show, “Is it even worse in Europe”, which runs to 5 March 2017. Photo: Guerrilla Girls
Guerrilla Girls got started in New York City in the 1980s to pressure art galleries and museums to display more works by women and people of colour. They donned gorilla masks and adopted pseudonyms of dead women artists to avoid retribution from within the close-knit art world.
“Not ready to make nice” is a retrospective of more than 200 works produced by group between 1985 and 2013, including banners, posters, T-shirts and video.
The material in the exhibition is entirely in English.
“The Guerrilla Girls’ iconic posters are immediately recognizable because they use the language of statistics to reflect women’s position in the field of art and other areas and they highlight the dramatic failure of democratic societies to keep their promise to achieve equality between the sexes,” Arakistai wrote in the exhibition’s press presentation (PDF).
Indeed, “the Frac Lorraine collection is 35% women artists, ‘Zubeida Agha’ and ‘Frida Kahlo’ of Guerrilla Girls told Delano via email this week. “They had 4 solo exhibitions by women artists over past 5 years.”
They know this because the activist group sent diversity questionnaires to 383 museums and art spaces across Europe. (The results are the subject of the current show in London, “Is it even worse in Europe?”, which runs through March 2017.)
“Of all the collecting museums that responded to our survey, the average percentage of women in a museum collection is 22%,” stated the activists.
One institution in the Grand Duchy also participated, the Casino contemporary art forum. “Casino Luxembourg does not have a collection. They had 10 solo exhibitions by women artists over past 5 years,” Agha and Kahlo wrote on Tuesday.
But a total of only 101 galleries and museums participated in the study; 282 did not. Delano asked the Guerrilla Girls members if they suspected that the 101 organisations were not 100% reflective of the wider art world, since it was a self-selecting sample.
They answered: “Yes! We are very curious as to what’s happening at the institutions that didn’t answer! What were they afraid of?”
“Not ready to make nice” runs until 19 February
Open Tuesday to Friday, 2pm-7pm (including school holidays); Saturday & Sunday 11am-7pm. Free admission. Free group visits in English can be booked in advance