Proclaiming ‘Resistance Is Female,’ Guerrilla Artists Commandeer NYC’s Phone Booths

A collective of women artists have infiltrated New York City phone booths.

A poster by Gigi Chen for the "Resistance Is Female poster series. Courtesy of Gigi Chen.

New York’s phone booths are getting a second life—as guerrilla art.

An artist-run ad takeover is spreading a feminist message across the city’s booths. The project is called “Resistance Is Female,” and features posters from a number of women artist and their allies.

To date, the series has featured work by Abe Lincoln Jr.Kimberly Osborne, Sara ErenthalMaha Alasaker, Astrida Valigorsky, My Life in Yellow, Jen Genotype, and Gigi Chen. Each piece is a strong graphic image, decorating the side of one of New York’s remaining phone booths, increasingly a cultural artifact in the age of the smartphone.

According to Lincoln (a pseudonym), the project is a response to the Trump administration and aims to serve as a reminder to women and their allies of the need to keep fighting. “We’ve got one of the most hostile administrations towards women ever, I think,” he told artnet News. “The initial outrage is one thing, but what happens a year from now?”

“I have a 9-year-old daughter and want her to know that women have a voice,” added Osborne in an email. “I want her to know it is important to speak up, talk back, fight back, be smart, stand up for what is right. I want her to know that art can shout. That street art can be street smart.”

“It’s about people doing to their part, doing whatever they feel they need to do to affect change,” Lincoln added, citing attending city council meetings or calling a Congressman as concrete actions that anyone can take.

Because the poster series is guerrilla art, put on display without official permission, Lincoln declined to reveal details about how the posters were placed in the phone booths, telling Gothamist “we don’t give away trade secrets on how it’s done.”

Many of the posters—largely one-of-a-kind, hand-painted pieces—in the series feature the “resistance is female” slogan, a spin on the “future is female,” originally coined by a lesbian separatist group in the 1970s and repopularized at the international Women March and other feminist protests held earlier this year following Trump’s inauguration.

Lincoln pairs the proudly militant message with colorful, traditionally feminine flowers, while Valigorsky reclaims the traditional pin-up girl trope for her contribution. Osborne’s design, a bold illustration with clenched fists strategically placed over a women’s breasts and vagina, is also available for purchase as a t-shirt, with all profits going to the ACLU.

The first piece was installed about a month ago, and the project is ongoing, with more work from additional artists still to come.

Though the “resistance” message is in some ways inherently suggestive of conflict, Erenthal described the project as one of hope. “Feminism is not an extreme,” she told artnet News. “This is just women coming together and using our voices to share a positive message.”

“Women are the future,” she added.

See more Instagram photos from the project:

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