The Guerrilla Girls Finally Get Their First UK Exhibition

Do women have to be naked to get into European museums?

The Guerrilla Girls. Courtesy of Andrew Hindraker via Whitechapel Gallery.
The Guerrilla Girls. Courtesy of Andrew Hindraker via Whitechapel Gallery.

The masked art collective known as the Guerrilla Girls have cast much-needed spotlights on the lack of diversity within museums and art institutions in the US for the past three decades. Now, in an upcoming exhibition in London in October, they’re taking European institutions to task.

As reported by the Guardian, the group will be conducting research on upwards of 400 European museum directors to assess the state of diversity in the art world, which will culminate in a solo exhibition aptly titled “Is It Even Worse in Europe?” at the Whitechapel Gallery. If the title sounds familiar, it’s a riff on a graphic print the group created back in 1986.

“With this project, we wanted to pose the question, ‘Are museums today presenting a diverse history of contemporary art or the history of money and power?,'” the group said in a statement to the Guardian.

Related: Guerrilla Girls To Celebrate 30 Years of Activism with Pop-Up Exhibition and Birthday Bash

The Guerrilla Girls, <em>It's Even Worse In Europe</em> (1986). Courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls via Tate.

The Guerrilla Girls, It’s Even Worse In Europe (1986). Courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls, via Tate.

The gallery’s director Iwona Blazwick, who previously worked with the collective during her time at the Tate, joined Whitchapel in 2001, and has taken on a number of female-focused projects since then. Blazwick said of the gallery in an interview with the Guardian in 2006: “The first thing I saw here was Eva Hesse in 1979, which was absolutely mind-blowing. It made me think I want to be part of this world.”

Guerrilla Girls, "Do Women have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum?" (1989). Courtesy of glasstire.com.

Guerrilla Girls, Do Women have to be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum? (1989). Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery.

Related: Guerilla Girls Talk at artnet News ArtTable

Though the artist collective is historically known for tackling gender inequities in museums, a statement from the gallery clarifies that their continent-wide survey is also concerned with gender non-conforming artists, and artists from Africa, Asia, South Asia, and South America. In tandem with this project, the group is also doing a “major public project” at Tate Modern from October 4–9.

The Guerrilla Girls: Is It Even Worse in Europe?” is on view at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, October 1, 2016–March 2017.


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