Feminists Go Ape at Cult Status

To a certain generation of young female artists…Wait. Scratch that. To a certain generation of artists—any artist, Y chromosome or otherwise—the emergence of the Guerilla Girls on the New York art scene, in 1985, was a smashed Moltov: supremely satisfying, riot-starting, and desperately needed.

The story goes like this: In 1985, a group of New York artists took umbrage at a Museum of Modern Art exhibition entitled “An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture.” The curator, pompously, declared, “Any artist who is not in my show should rethink his career.” Note the adjective pronoun. Of the 169 showcased artists, only 17 were women.

In response, a group calling themselves the Guerrilla Girls publicly protested the curator’s statement—indicative of what they saw as exclusionary, male-centric prerogatives of the larger art world—and began plastering SoHo with sloganeering posters:

“Do women have to be naked to get into U.S. museums?”

“Women in America earn only 2/3 of what men earn. Women artists earn only 1/3.”

The Guerrilla Girls soon incorporated other minority artists into their campaign, and blasted at the establishment with sticker bombings, posters, protests, and other acts of subversion. Their movement went international. (Sample poster: “It’s even worse in Europe.”) They wore gorilla masks to protect their identities. In 2002, they began installing billboards to challenge the white male dominance of the film industry, especially the Academy Awards.

Erin Sayer, founder of the Cult Status gallery, and Joan Vorderbruggen, creator of the Whittier neighborhood’s excellent Artists in Storefronts project, hope to bring some Guerilla Girls billboards to Minneapolis—scathing critiques, set to go up in October, blasting the proposed marriage and voter ID amendments.

Tomorrow night, Sayer’s gallery hosts a one-night-only fundraising event for the effort. A silent auction, sponsored by the women-run art organization WARM, will include work by over 50 local artists. DJs Christy Hunt of Lady Heat, and transgendered rocker Venus DeMars provide music. And, of course, guests are encouraged to don gorilla masks in solidarity.

For more info, check out cultstatusgallery.com/the-guerrilla-girls-and-women-in-art/

Guerilla Girls Benefit
Saturday, August 11
7-11 p.m.
Cult Status, 2913 Harriet Ave. S., Mpls.