If you see people wearing gorilla masks around the Twin Cities over the next couple of months – especially at art galleries – do not be alarmed as there is a simple explanation: The Guerrilla Girls are taking over the Twin Cities.
Originally hailing from New York City, the Guerrilla Girls formed just over 30 years ago, in 1985. They describe themselves as feminist masked avengers whose purpose is to use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose discrimination and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture.
Since their inception, the Guerrilla Girls have worked to reinvent the word “feminism” in more than a hundred posters, street projects, actions, books and billboards.
And they do this without anyone really knowing who they really are.
The members are anonymous and take on pseudonyms of late female artists such as Kathe Kollwitz and Frida Kahlo, pseudonyms of two members who have been part of the Guerrilla Girls from the get-go.
In fact, since their inception 30 years ago, over 50 women have been members, some for a very short period of time while others for much longer. But because of the anonymity, they never say exactly how many there are at any given time.
And by the way, the women keep their anonymity by wearing gorilla masks when they are at events. But more than keeping their identity hidden, the Guerrilla Girls wear the masks when they make public appearances in order to keep the focus on the issues and not their identities.
And now, the Guerrilla Girls are in town for a Twin Cities Takeover, masks and all.
From January through March, 2016, the Guerrilla Girls will take over more than 30 arts and cultural organizations in and around the Twin Cities. These partner sites will take on gender and race inequalities as well as stereotypes and hypocrisies. During this eight-week period, over 50 exhibitions, discussions, performances and special events will take place.
The Kick Off Week
The Guerrilla Girls Kick Off is happening January 21 – 24 with free exhibition openings and youth-oriented events at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Rochester Art Center, and Walker Art Center. Don’t worry if you missed the kick-off, though. You’ll be able to see the exhibitions throughout the Takeover.
And there are plenty of exhibitions and events that are opening after the Kick Off, too.
For instance, No Boys Allowed at Kolman & Pryor Gallery in Northeast Minneapolis opens on Saturday, January 30 with a reception from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm. The exhibit showcases ceramics and paintings by Kolman & Pryor Gallery artists, Betsy Ruth Byers, Jil Evans, Farida Hughes, Kelly Jean Ohl and Jodi Reeb and runs through March 12, 2016.
“With No Boys Allowed, our intention at Kolman & Pryor Gallery, like the Guerrilla Girls, is to raise awareness and questions about the role of gender in art,” says Anita Sue Kolman, Gallery Co-Owner. “We are interested in engaging our audience with the following question: Have we moved beyond gender or does gender still affect artistic judgments and perceptions?”
The Takeover Week
The project will conclude with the Guerrilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover Week from February 29 through March 6, 2016. A whole slew of events and exhibitions are happening at Bryant Lake Bowl, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis Central Library, Instinct Gallery, Intermedia Arts, and Soo Visual Arts Center, among many other participating organizations.
The Takeover Week will culminate with the Guerrilla Girls themselves taking the stage at the State Theater the evening of March 5. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased here.
When the Takeover is said and done, the Guerrilla Girls hope that their time in the Twin Cities was more than a rally cry but an invitation for fellow feminists, artists, and activists to join them in a collective roar for change.
And by the way, the Guerrilla Girls appeared on Late Night with Stephen Colbert on January 13. Check it out and hear from the Gorilla’s mouths themselves: