The Barbra and Andrew Rothschild Lecture
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Seating is limited. Museum entrances open at 6 PM and the lecture hall is open for seating at 6:30 PM.
The Guerrilla Girls are coming.
Big, fuzzy gorilla masks will cover their heads during their entire visit to Duke. No one will see their faces or learn their true names, even in private.
Anonymity has always been an important condition for the Guerrilla Girls, who have worked hard to expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture since the 1980s. They are working artists who risk a lot by criticizing the establishment.
We have much to admire in these masked superheroes of the art world, whose costumes make every gesture a political one.
But it began to bother me recently that I won’t interact with them like normal humans. I won’t look them in the eyes or connect on a personal level, even while driving them around to various appointments.
I confessed this uneasy feeling to a friend, who understood right away. The gorilla masks, she explained, exclude me from their club of feminists.
“You’re one of Them,” she said. “Even though you’re a woman, you’re The Man!”
Aha! With that realization, I am more curious than ever about the Guerrilla Girls. I will attend the performance/talk with my two children, ages 11 and 14, and plan to keep an open mind.
The Guerrilla Girls are feminist masked avengers who have stirred up audiences all over the world with presentations in full jungle drag, exposing sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture. They use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to reveal the subtext, the overlooked and the downright unfair. In the past few years, they have appeared at more than 90 universities and museums, authored billboards, posters and books, includingThe Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art.Work by Guerrilla Girls is part of the exhibition The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991, on view at the Nasher Museum through December 31, 2011.
TOP: Guerrilla Girls, Do Women Have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum?, 1989. Poster. Courtesy Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. © Guerrilla Girls and courtesy www.guerrillagirls.com.