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Feminist Art Activist Group Guerrilla Girls Discuss History of Art and Power on Stephen Colbert Show and They're About to Take Over Twin Cities!

January 15, 2016
Behind the pseudonym of Lor Dethal lies Nemanja Torlak, a writer for Widewalls intrigued and moved by diversity in art and in the lives of those who create it. It is often the unexpected that come forth and surprise us, and art is a world that allows it and makes it possible. David beats the Goliath daily, and writing about it is a pleasure.

With over 30 years of exposing sexism and racism in the art world, politics and pop culture, the anonymous activist group known as Guerrilla Girls take on the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul from January to March 2016. This Takeover will include over twenty art centers and cultural institutions that will help highlight the imbalances and inequalities that have taken root within the art world, creating race and gender related stereotypes and hypocrisies.  Although they’ve fought for these ideals for so long, their work hasn’t bore much fruit, based on the statistics we are about to discuss. Talking about these problems and what the group is all about, Guerrilla Girls were hosted on the Late Show by Stephen Colbert, moving the spotlight towards the approaching Takeover.

A History Written by the Victors

Stephen Colbert invited three of Guerrilla Girl’s members to take part in his recent Late Show episode, and he prepared some interesting and prominent questions to pose. At one point, he says that “History is written by the winners,” and that “History is a record of violence. Is the art world a record of violence in and of itself?” One of the Girls going by the name of Frida explains how violence towards a democracy in art has existed even in the time of kings and queens, where they have been the one determining what art is about and what should be portrayed in it. In today’s democratic society, the art world has been “delayed” in a sense that modern kings and queens still regulate the flow of art. Billionaire art collectors will buy and promote artists and art that appeal to their values and it is mostly art made by a number of white males, thus creating a very limited art catalogue when it should look like the whole of our culture. As Frida states: “Unless all the voices of our culture are in the history of art, it’s not really a history of art, it’s a history of power.”

Guerrila Girls 1
“…modern kings and queens still regulate the flow of art.” Photo via nytimes.com

Supported by Numbers

Not only do their words hit the spot, the numbers they produce during the show regarding involvement of women in art museums and solo exhibitions support their claims. Colbert reminds the audience that in 1985, the Guggenheim, the Met and the Whitney had zero solo shows by women artists, and the Museum of Modern Art had but one. Even after decades of protesting, not much has changed. Thirty years down the line, The Guggenheim had one solo show by a woman artist, the Met had one, the Whitney had one, and the Museum of Modern Art had two! Zubeida, another representative of the Guerrilla Girls, explains how this is exactly the issue they have been fighting against. “A lot of people thought that it was an issue in the ’70s and the ’80s and then it got solved, but it hasn’t. We still see such terrible numbers, and that’s why, sadly, we need to keep doing this” she added, and in hopes of bringing more attention to this issue the 2016 Takeover is being held in Minneapolis/St. Paul and surrounding cities.

Guerrilla Girls
“…billionaire art collectors will buy and promote artists and art that appeal to their values.” Photo via multimedia.uga.edu

Twin Cities Takeover

Promoting artistic expression by the often overlooked and underrepresented, The Guerrilla Girls invite the fellow feminists, artists, and activists to join them in being part of collective change within the non-democratic art world. With the billionaire collectors composing cookie-cutter collections of art that costs the most, Kathie proclaims that there are so many great artists deserving of attention, but too much discrimination to put them in focus. Over twenty arts and cultural organizations will be involved in the Takeover which starts on January 18, 2016, and with their posters, billboards, books, videos and live lectures, the Guerrilla Girls are sure to make you laugh while making you think.

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Featured image: Installation in Glass Curtain Gallery. Photo via students.colum.edu. All images used for demonstrative purposes only.