Earlier this year, founding members of the Guerrilla Girls, Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz talked to a full house at Federation Hall about their work, their philosophy of activism and their campaign against a lack of ethics in the art world.
The Guerrilla Girls are feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman. They use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture. They undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative in visual culture by revealing the understory, the subtext, the forgotten, the overlooked, the understated and the downright unfair.
Since they formed in 1985, they’ve done hundreds of posters, stickers, and other projects. They’ve created installations at the Venice Biennale, in Bilboa, Spain, at The Centre Pompidou, in Rotterdam, Athens, Bilbao, Sarejevo, Belgrade and Shanghai. In 2006, they unveiled their latest anti-film industry billboard in Hollywood, just in time for the Oscars.
They’ve appeared at Tate Modern, MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum and hundreds of colleges, universities and art museums. The’ve created special projects for Istanbul, Mexico City, Ireland, Montreal and Chicago. They did a full-page spread in the Washington Post and many other newspapers and journals. They are the authors of five books including Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls; The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art; Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes; The Guerrilla Girls’ Art Museum Activity Book; and The Guerrilla Girls’ Hysterical Herstory of Hysteria and How it Was Cured, from Ancient times until Now. A show of their recent work, Not Ready to Make Nice: The Guerrilla Girls in the Art World and Beyond, is on tour in the US and abroad.
The was the second time the Guerrilla Girls have been to Melbourne. Every time they’ve been Down Under they’ve attracted large crowds at their gigs. They’ve also conducted hands-on workshops to help people find a voice for their own outrageous activist campaigns. Projects created in the first Melbourne workshop 10 years ago were threatened with censorship. The Guerrilla Girls considered that a great success. They look forward to public reaction to all the terrific projects begun in the workshops at the University of Melbourne in May, 2012.
A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.