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Guerrilla Girls – Culture Jammers. Write letters, make posters, make trouble!. The Guerrilla Girls engage in media plurality to ensure that their political acts of protest reach as many viewers as possible

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Guerrilla Girls – Culture Jammers

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Presentation Transcript
write letters make posters make trouble
Write letters, make posters, make trouble!
  • The Guerrilla Girls engage in media plurality to ensure that their political acts of protest reach as many viewers as possible
  • They raise awareness of their efforts to combat sexism, racism, classism (many isms in the art world and beyond)
in their own words
In their own words:
  • a bunch of anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear in public wearing gorilla masks . . . we have produced over 100 posters, stickers, books, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world, film and the culture at large. We use humor to convey information, provoke discussion, and show that feminists can be funny. We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities. Dubbing ourselves the conscience of culture, we declare ourselves feminist counterparts to the mostly male tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger. (“Interview”)

“the group’s rhetoric coheres into a meaningful message because each poster, action, or book project confronts sexism and racism by revealing the incongruity between social ideals and practices” (Demo 138)

  • Demo, Anne Teresa. "The Guerrilla Girls’ Comic Politics of Subversion.” Women’s Studies in Communication 23.2 (2000): 132-156.
endless cycle of postmodern images
endless cycle of postmodern images
  • Using humour
  • Pastiche
  • Parody
  • Irony
  • Multi-media saturation
guerrilla girls speaking at feminist futures symposium moma
Guerrilla Girls speaking at Feminist Futures Symposium (MoMA)
  • Almost from the beginning, we did campaigns about homelessness, abortion, and war, among many other issues. We've never been systematic; we just go after one target after another. (There are plenty to choose from.) Recently, we've been attacking the film industry for the pathetically low numbers of women and people of color behind the scenes. We're also working on more political posters, a body image campaign and an attack on the music industry. (“Interview”)
  • Rhetoric – the art of persuasion
  • GGs use specific rhetorical strategies to promote their campaigns
  • Written and visual forms of rhetoric are important
  • Demo argues that the GG rely on rhetorical strategies of incongruity
humour incongruity
  • To understand something as funny, we must first identify what is expected.
  • The expected is aligned with what is serious, or habitual
  • The comic is aligned with the unexpected
  • Comedy comes from incongruity in systems – something that is introduced but is unrelated to elements in the system

We try to be different from the kind of political art that is angry and points to something and says “This is bad.” That's preaching to the converted. We want to be subversive, to transform our audience, to confront them with some disarming statements, backed up by facts—and great visuals—and hopefully convert them. We carefully craft everything we do. We try to twist an issue around and present it in a way that hasn't been seen before.

historical revision
Historical Revision
  • The Guerilla Girls’ Guide Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art (1998) in which they re-write art history to include female artists previously ignored
  • An example of incongruity in which two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words are arranged side-by-side or in similar narrative moments for the purpose of comparison, contrast, or rhetorical effect.
stereotypes vs archetypes
Stereotypes vs. archetypes
  • Stereotype is a simplified idea that becomes invested with meaning (the box people are jammed into)
  • Archetype is a model or ideal (the pedestal that people are judged against)
  • Daddy’s Girl
  • Tomboy
  • Girl Next Door
  • Bimbo/ Dumb Blonde
  • Femme Fatale/ Vamp
  • Bitch/ Ballbreaker
  • Mother stereotypes
  • Spinster/Old Maid
  • Hag/ Crone
for each stereotype
For each stereotype:
  • Briefly explain the stereotype and its history
  • Identify the possible fears and/or desires that this stereotype attempts to address or conquer – in other words, why does this stereotype persist? What feminine behavior is being glorified or villainized, and more importantly, why?
  • Identify current-day examples of this stereotype – so, who has the media represented according to the characteristics of the stereotype and why?