The Guerrilla Girls have been exposing and challenging sexism and racism in the visual arts, politics and culture for over three decades. Now for the first time, the anonymous feminist activist group revisit their 1986 campaign ‘It’s Even Worse in Europe’.
In the summer of 2016, the Guerrilla Girls wrote to 383 European museum directors, inviting them to respond to fourteen questions about diversity. The responses they received, or did not receive, are revealed in their latest campaign ‘Is it even worse in Europe?’ launching at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, on 1 October 2016. A new banner is installed on the façade of the Gallery for five months. It reveals that only a quarter of museums responded to their questionnaire, and invites visitors to go inside the Gallery to discover more.
Copies of every completed questionnaire, some typed and others hand-written, cover a wall in the Archive Gallery for visitors to read. The questions and responses relate to the number of artists in recent exhibitions who are female, gender non-conforming or from Africa, Asia, South Asia and South America.
Ten new posters also feature in the Gallery, presenting the full list of museums that responded, plus thought-provoking statistics, analysis, and comments from the directors offered as part of the returned questionnaires. On the floor of the Archive Gallery, a full list of the museums who did not respond to the questionnaire is published for all visitors to see.
The Guerrilla Girls said, “With this project, we wanted to pose the question ‘Are museums today presenting a diverse history of contemporary art or the history of money and power?’ We focus on the understory, the subtext, the overlooked and the downright unfair. Art can’t be reduced to the small number of artists who have won a popularity contest among bigtime dealers, curators and collectors. Unless museums and Kunsthallen show art as diverse as the cultures they claim to represent, they’re not showing the history of art, they’re just preserving the history of wealth and power.”
The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous, feminist activists was founded in 1985. Each member takes the name of a woman artist from the past as a pseudonym and in public their identities are hidden under gorilla masks. Using facts, humour and fake fur, they produce posters, banners, stickers, billboards, projections and other public projects that expose sexism, racism and corruption in art, film, politics and culture at large.
Coinciding with this new commission and exhibition, the Guerrilla Girls will also lead a week-long major public project at Tate Modern (4-9 Oct.), as part of Tate Exchange.