The Guerilla Girls — those sarcastic, gorilla-mask-wearing, women’s rights champions who have been rousing the rabble for two decades — are finally getting some institutional support.
On Nov. 9, the Brooklyn Museum will honor the anonymous activists/artists at its fifth annual Women in the Arts fundraiser.
Four “Girls” will take to the stage on Friday to present highlights from their 20 years of casting a skeptical eye on the art world. (Remember their 2004 poster about the content of the Metropolitan Museum’s modern and contemporary galleries: “Do women have to be naked to get into U.S. museums? Less than 3 percent of the artists in the Met. Museum are women, but 83 percent of the nudes are female.”)
“It will definitely be entertaining, for sure,” said Maura Reilly, the curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, whose detective work got the feisty foursome — who go by the pseudonyms Frida Kahlo, Kathe Kollwitz, Gertrude Stein and Alice Neel — to accept the museum’s invite. After their presentation, the Guerrillas will be available for a question-and-answer session, followed by luncheon in the Beaux-Arts Court where ticket holders will have a chance to meet them face to fur.
Although Reilly said she was easily able to track down the incognito Guerrillas through their Web site, other event details are proving to be a bit trickier to solve.
“We are wondering how they will eat with their masks on,” said Reilly. “They’ll need straws for their water on stage.”
The Brooklyn Museum has itself been scrutinized by the group, which calls itself the “conscience of the art world.” They did protest the museum’s 1999 “Sensation” exhibition with a poster that claimed British collector Charles Saatchi “paid the museum to show his art collection.” But Reilly said it was time that the Guerrillas received this award that’s been bestowed on the likes of artist Maya Lin and photographer Annie Leibovitz.
The Guerrillas may have been rallying against the under-representation of women in galleries and museums, as well as other gender and racial iniquities, for over 20 years, but Reilly says their message is still relevant.
“Women have come a long way, but the ratios and the statistics are still so horrendous that we shouldn’t be content,” said Reilly. “ Their message is not old news.”
The “Women in the Arts tribute to the Guerrilla Girls” program kicks off at 11 am in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy., at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights) on Nov. 9, and is followed by an awards presentation and luncheon. The program is included in the museum admission of $8, $4 students and seniors with ID. Tickets for the luncheon begin at $150. For reservations and information, call the Community Committee Office at (718) 789-2493.