Guerrilla Girls @ RISD, January 13, 2010

Guerrilla Girls presentation @ RISD auditorium 1.13.10

Steph introduces – where we are now, have been and are going.
Part of the Year of Providence Initiative
“If there is no dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming.

Guerrilla Girl Frida Kahlo starts at back of auditorium, hands bananas out – makes comment about brave man wanting phallic banana (ed: contrary to form, bananas are the stamen or female part of the flower but whatevs)

She gets to the stage, finds her glasses and comments that they are hard to wear with the gorilla mask.

Quotes Pythagoras, Luther, Brimoire(?) and others – shows a graphic – a Wall of Hate Speech.

Guerrilla Girls wear masks and take pseudonyms of dead female artists to focus on the art and critique. Guerrilla Girls could be anyone, anywhere.

Feminism’s normal dialogue has caused those that are in agreement to be put off. Very few actually disagree with equal pay, freedom from sexual violence and other depravity.

“Weenie count” at the Met followed the “Do women need to be naked to get into the Met?” posters. Were disappointed at the nakedness of Greco-Roman section, only nakedness in early Renaissance was a full-frontal nude baby Jesus. As art moves into modern era more flesh appears and it is 85% female nudes. Museums have basements full of female artist’s work.

There are token women and minority artists that are shown over and over. Top 10 art world tokens poster.

It’s been worth it just to be able to finally criticize a museum on it’s own walls.

Venice Biennale pictures.

Anatomically correct Oscar – billboard of chubby white guy.

US Senate more egalitarian than Hollywood – more female senators than directors.

Goes further into the history of hate speech against women. Labeled from birth (?)

Lack of bulemic, strung out or teen-pregnant Barbie dolls. Barbie started out as a sex doll in post-war Germany. Sold in tobacco shops.

Real and fictional women as stereotypes. Military lesbians – General MacArthur asking one of his assistants to root out the lesbians in women’s corp in WWII. She outs herself as being at top of list, plus all the admins, motor pool, etc. He replies “Forget that order.” Other stereotypes such as Lolita (the sex crazed tween as stereotype instead of the predatory older man). Mom stereotypes.

Describes book Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers. Any woman who is accertive is labeled a bitch – Hillary, bitch. Madonna, bitch. Embrace the label.

Introduces Guerrilla Girl ethnic dolls collection:

Theresa the Good Catholic Girl, Lauren the Jewish American Princess, Running Deer the Indian Princess, Pearl the China Doll, Rosa the Hot Tamale. Theresa the Good Catholic Girl, she’s already someone’s wife as a 7-year old alter girl. The perfect doormat for any man or priest in her life, has a special button for apologies.

Still Crazy After All These Years. A short history of hysteria.


History of a diagnosis – how women were treated for “hysteria” as a condition. Doctors would manually stimulate women that could afford it… sometimes for hours. Shows array of objects for treatment. Electric home vibrators appear 10 years before commercially available vacuums and toasters. Sears offered a combo vibrator-vacuum for relief plus a clean house!

Feminism was the cure for hysteria. Knowledge of the body, etc.

You can not tell history without including all the voices. It is the difference between history and a chronicle of power.

Gathers a volunteer from audience. Young man is brought on stage, given the role of hero and offered to change into a pink dress. Frida hands him a script and grabs her cigar to take the role of Arnold Glimcher, gallery owner. They read a telephone conversation. “Even I can’t tell the New York Times what to do.” “But why aren’t there any women in your stable of artists.” “There are no women artists that fit our PROFILE.”

After the reenactment. “You can find your own way to be an artist. You can find your own way to be an activist. Can you find a way to be a feminist?

Q – “is X history month needed?” (black history, women’s month, etc)
A – Until they are not needed they are needed.

Q – Have the Guerrilla Girls created new venues?
A – Don’t curate shows, find their own ways, the joy of dissent.

Q – How to better support women designers? How to bring in more women designers?
A – Maryland school as example. Some footwork involved, find out who you want and demand it. Never a simple fix.

Q – Why gorillas? Why not just Anonymous?
A – Guerrilla Girls are both Anonymous and Female. Masked crusaders.

Q – As an Asian international student, does Guerrilla Girls focus on inequality in art only in US or worldwide?
A – No orthodoxy, no plan, tried to do it in Istanbul (and Turkey is a better place for women artists than the EU). Would like to make alternate audio tours for the world’s museums.

Q – Have you gone outside art schools? Midwest, big universities?
A – Travel 50 times a year, much of it in the Midwest. Lots of invites from gender studies, political science and American history departments. Least presentations and most resistance from art schools.

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