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The Guerrilla Girls Are Revolutionizing the Usina del Arte

Fighting discrimination in politics through art, since 1985.

By | [email protected] | November 20, 2018 4:45pm

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For the first time in Buenos Aires, feminist art activists Guerrilla Girls have taken the stage with a powerful exhibition covering the topics of gender, human rights, and discrimination, as well as a series of debates and performances by external guests. The event couldn’t arrive at a more perfect time, with Argentina’s women at the forefront of resistance and collective action in fight for equality.

With more than 100 projects around the globe, the Guerrilla Girls have revolutionized some of the most prestigious street art around the world, namely in cities such as New York, London and Shanghai, and from now until December 20th, they will be exhibiting some of their work at the Usina del Arte, located in La Boca.

Guerilla, a symbol usually associated with male dominance and masculinity, is the image which floods our intrigue-driven search engines as we delve into the work of these anonymous female artists. Working since 1985 in the long walk to equality, they believe that their anonymity “keeps focus on the issues, and away from who [they] might be,” positing that issues matter more than identities, covering predominantly the themes of gender, ethnicity, corruption in art, politics, film, and pop culture.

In an interview with Vogue magazine in 2015, they said: “Over 60 women have been members of the Guerrilla Girls over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. Yes, some have wanted to stick to criticizing the art world. But most of us have always been activists beyond the art world, and we wanted to apply the voice and style we developed to take on all the issues we care about.”

Since then, they have grown into one of the most widely recognized feminist activist groups, and continue to spread their irony-infused slogans and symbolism across the globe.

Billboard version of their 2015 30th Anniversary Stickers for the exhibition Person of the Crowd at Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. Photo via Guerrilla Girls

With the denunciation of the corruption of the art world a recurring theme in their collection of works, it’s important to identify the Guerrilla Girls as a group who do not merely represent the female portion of society, but rather stand up to social issues which affect both men and women. For example, in 2015 after having been invited to the opening of the Whitney Museum in New York, they projected a message about income inequality of the facade of the building, highlighting the disproportion of wealth and power that drives the art world.

In a similar vein, a more recent projection outside of a Chinatown warehouse in Los Angeles 2018 highlighted the disparity of cultural representation in art across museums, stating:

“Don’t let museums reduce art to the small number of artists who have won a popularity contest among big-time dealers, curators and collectors. If museums don’t show art as diverse as the cultures they claim to represent, tell them they’re not showing the history of art, they are just preserving the history of wealth and power.”

Do contemporary galleries and museums run the risk of having their prestige destroyed by radical art? Quite possibly, but perhaps it also hints at a time for change and progression for these historic galleries.

Photo Via Guerrilla Girls

This disparity of the representation of culture in art is not the only issue that has been addressed by the Guerrilla Girls, with the additional recognition of the absence of a female presence in the modern art sections of museums. In 1989, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York conducted research to find that while less than 5 percent of the artists in modern art wings are women, 85 percent of the women represented are nude, a statistic that the Guerrilla Girls have held close to their work for a long time.

Clearly, this is a statistic that represents art created in the past, but with a variety of different posters addressing female nudity in everything from art museums to music videos. “You cannot tell the story of our culture without the voice of everyone in the culture, otherwise, it’s not history, it’s just the history of the powerful,” they stated in the introduction video to their 30th anniversary exhibition. 

Exhibition ‘Majorities – Minorities? Exclusion? Inclusion!’ at The Kestner Gesellschaft Museum, Hanover 2018. (Photo Via E-Flux)

The group’s most recent work also involves the rights of both men and women regarding the political and social climate in society. Addressing topics such as homelessness and economic instability, to more specific themes such as the recent election of Brazil’s incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, the Guerrilla Girls remain contemporary activists in society and bring to light the controversy behind the hot topics that continue to flood our news feeds.

Guerrilla Girls Portfolio Exhibition at the Mjellby Museum, Sweden September 29th 2018 – March 9th 2019 (Photo via Guerrilla Girls)

What’s on at the Usina del Arte?

The Guerrilla Girls will exhibit examples of their work in the Sala Laberinto of the Usina del Arte until December 20th, undermining the culture of a dominant discourse by exposing the ignored, the underlying, the subtext, and the extremely unfair. Additional to this, there will also be a series of activities curated by Magdalena Petroni and Magdalena Pagano, which will include debates, performances, film screenings, lectures, poetry and music with the aim of further understanding the group’s ethos and stance in society.

For more information on the day-to-day activities, please click here.

Usina del Arte | Agustín R. Caffarena 1 | Monday to Thursday 2-7 PM, Friday-Sunday 10 AM-9 PM. Guided Tours: Monday to Friday 5 PM, Saturday & Sunday 12.30 PM and 5.30 PM

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