Self/Concept: Reception and Panel Discussion
March 3, 2016 @ 6:00pm – 9:00pm
I attended the Self/Concept exhibition and panel discussion curated by Guerrilla Girl intern Sara Suppan at MCAD on Thursday night. Both the exhibition and discussion were captivating, featuring a diverse mix of seven Minneapolis based artists. Each collection was distinctly different from the next, enriching the meaning behind the exhibition. Seeing how those artists represented themselves and their stories inspired me to critically think about how I may represent myself through any and all mediums. It was so interesting to learn about how artists of different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds are represented in museums and shows. The discussion also posed the question of how these differences are reflected in artistic consumption. Who is viewing art? How do we not only make sure artist representation is diverse but the consumption of art is diverse as well? I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach a succinct answer for those questions but I’m glad to have been a part of the conversation.
Portfolio Compleat, part of Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections
January 21, 2016 – December 31, 2016
Walker Art Center
The Guerilla Girls exhibit at the Walker Art Center was quite intense. The exhibit consisted of 11 posters celebrating the activist group’s 30th anniversary. When first turning the corner, one can’t help but notice the giant, bright yellow and pink poster that instantly demands the viewer’s attention. And it did get attention, but only from a certain age group. A lot of younger crowds glanced at the exhibit, but did not seem to give the collection much thought. However, I noticed that an older demographic took the time to read each poster. I’m not sure if this was due to the fact that they were the target audience, or if it was due to the message the poster collection was conveying. Were the Guerrilla Girls not reaching the newer generation? I’d like to believe that their message has already been instilled in my generation, and maybe this is the reason that the impact was not the same.
Personally, looking at each of the posters, I felt a connection to their messages. Is it because I’m a woman? Is the message actually reaching the people that it needs to? Where are these people? Something tells me they are not at museums and feminism rallies.
2016 Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon
March 5, 2016 @ 11:00am – 5:00pm
Minneapolis Central Library
On the final day of the Guerrilla Girls Minneapolis takeover, I ventured downtown to the Minneapolis Library for the 3rd Annual Art and Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. It was an all day event where participants came together to fairly represent women in art on Wikipedia by updating pages related to art and feminism.
I’m sure “empowering” is a common summation of last week’s events, and that is exactly how I felt after editing a photographer’s Wiki page. It was exciting to be one of the younger participants amongst a diverse group of people who contributed to the fair portrayal of all artists. I was intimidated walking into this process, as I have always been a passive participant in regards to Wikipedia, having never previously contributed to the site’s content. However, I couldn’t help but feel encouraged by the enthusiasm of the volunteers who helped guide us on our journey to fairly represent women in the arts. That, to me, was empowering.
March 5, 2016 @ 8:00pm – 10:00pm
State TheatreI was immediately struck by the tenderness of the Guerrilla Girls’ words, something I did not expect from radical activists, as they entered the State Theatre throwing ‘feminist bananas’ to the crowd. They shared an extensive retrospective summary of their work with the crowd at the State Theatre, which was helpful to those of us who knew relatively little about their practice and created a communal sense of empowerment with every nod to various human rights movements.
Locally, they mentioned their recent research conducted at Mia. The Institute of Art represents many female and non-white artists, but few are credited because of Western history’s selective memory. Objects by these artists are also seen as artifacts or crafts instead of works of art. I now hold a greater appreciation for functional craft objects.
Unfortunately, the Guerrilla Girls did not say much about the future. They have been welcomed inside the institutions they criticize, enabling them to spread their messages further and more directly to their target audiences, but nothing else has really changed. During the Q&A, two thoughtful young feminists brought current issues to light.
A non-white young woman challenged the Guerrilla Girl on stage who operates (30 years and counting) with the pseudonym Frida Kahlo. She argued that the Mexican artist would not want to be portrayed by a white woman. The artist claimed that Frida Kahlo was as European as herself and mentioned that an in-progress DNA test may validate her career-long misnomer.
Another girl asked for the Guerrilla Girls’ opinions on Madeleine Albright’s recent words, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” The artists both agreed that the important feminist figurehead had made a mistake, but that she should be forgiven. They mentioned that she had used this phrase countless times before, and that it had only become problematic when used to insist that women should vote for Hillary Clinton. Albright has since apologized for this statement in the context of the current election, but maintains its importance more generally.