The Guerrilla Girls is a group of anonymous female artists from USA. They’ve been working on exposing sexism in art since 80’s. One of their pieces, It’s even worse in Europe from 1986 which had statistics about female artists in art institutions in Europe has been revisited and exhibited in The Whitechapel Gallery (Is It Even Worse In Europe?, 2016). Although, this time with a question mark – Is it even worse in Europe?
The piece was an extension to the old statistic, comparison wise – but at the same time it succeeded in creating a narrative within the actual timeline of the piece. Showing sexism and racial discrimination as a continuous process and common practice within European art institutions.
The piece began by a questionnaire being sent out to 383 art organisation across Europe. After receiving answers, they’ve been formed into an exhibition.
The actual piece is a graphic narrative set-up across the exhibition space in the gallery. Besides conventionally walls, the floor space has been used as well. The floor has a poster with all the art institutions which have not answered and visitors are encouraged to walk over it.
In a way the questionnaire has acted as a disobedient object. It has been re-appropriated, moulded in various ways by the answers given. The questionnaire has been used sarcastically, as the idea of female artists being under represented in art institutions would only be confirmed by this piece, so here numbers are not as important, or important at all. The responses were what formed the exhibition. Numbers acted as a factor only within the parameter of the responses – for instance, 1 in 4 galleries replied. This is what was important.
Overall, I quite enjoyed the exhibition. I was specifically drawn to the poster with Complaints Department as two galleries from Poland and Slovenia made a significant comment – why are Guerrilla girls not asking about representation of Eastern European artists?!
Is It Even Worse In Europe (2016) [Exhibition]. Whitechapel Gallery, London. 01 October – 05 March 2017).