CTS: Guerrilla Girls exhibition review ‘Is It Even Worse In Europe?’

Sporting gorilla masks to achieve complete anonymity, meet the Guerrilla Girls. Feminist activists since 1985, their mission is to combine facts with humour to expose what is underneath the surface when it comes to the representation of women in the art world. Located in The Whitechapel Gallery is a room filled with responses from 101 out of 383 European Museums/Galleries to a Guerrilla Girls questionnaire about the diversity (if any) of each of their collections and exhibitions.

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https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/19/guerilla-girls-feminist-art-0activists-first-uk-show-whitechapel, The Guardian, 06/11/16

The activist group’s initial work originated from the exhibition ‘The International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture’ at the MoMA (New York, 1984) which was supposed to be a survey of ‘the most contemporary artists in the world’ (The Whitechapel Gallery, 2016) but only 13 out of the 182 artists were female. In the context of displaying European women’s art, the exhibition explores today’s meaning of a Guerrilla Girls 1986 piece ‘It’s Even Worse in Europe’; conducting this survey in 2016 they conclude that it IS worse in Europe. In addition to sexism the Guerrilla Girls draw attention to racism, looking into how many of the artists given exhibition space are white and included questions involving Africa, Asia, South Asia and South America.

Guerrilla Girls. (2016). Is It Even Worse In Europe? Poster. London: The Whitechapel Gallery

Followed by a short film outside the modest exhibition space, offering more insight into the Guerrilla Girls’ work, the clearly presented museum/art gallery responses took the far wall; overlapped by large posters of selected responses in bold and the Guerrilla Girls’ replies. The colours were a mixture of striking and muted for example bright red with dull grey, to avoid distracting the viewer but enabling them to remain aware of the project’s significance. On the opposite wall were books compiling every answer from the various museums and art galleries who bothered to reply, beside a wall length poster portraying how they do not represent a diverse range of cultures. So girls, a word of advice from the Guerrilla Girls on how to get your work into museums: ‘Keep making trouble like we do.’ (Guerrilla Girls, 2016).

Guerrilla Girls. (2016). Is It Even Worse In Europe? Poster. London: The Whitechapel Gallery

 

 

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