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U.S feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls unveil large scale billboards across the UK addressing bad male behaviour in the art world. - FAD Magazine

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U.S feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls unveil large scale billboards across the UK addressing bad male behaviour in the art world.

Guerrilla Girls, The Male Graze, Art Night, 2021, Image credit : Rob Melen – Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea

Anonymous U.S feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls today unveil a series of large scale billboards across the UK, in iconic locations from outside the Glasgow Barrowlands, and at London Bridge, to countryside locations and seaside towns from 18th June to 18th July 2021. 

The billboards have been launched as part of Art Night, a contemporary art festival which this summer is taking place across the UK for the first time. The billboards are part of a new commission titled The Male Graze is the artist’s largest UK public project to date and which explores bad male behaviour through the lens of art history. 

The work, delivered in partnership with Jack Arts and Ground Up Media, will launch in London, Eastbourne, Dundee, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Warwick, Swansea and Lewes and will be on display in partnership with Art Night’s friends Compton Verney, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Glasgow Women’s Library, g39, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Grand Union, The Tetley and Towner Eastbourne. Art Night will also present this commission in two London sites in Shoreditch and London Bridge. 

Guerrilla Girls, The Male Graze, Art Night, 2021, Image credit : Rob Melen – Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea

What Art historians call The Male Gaze, the masculine, heterosexual perspective in European and American art mostly by white men that depicts women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer, the Guerrilla Girls call The Male Graze. Lots of women are naked in post-colonial western art. Some are idle : sleeping, splayed out on beds and couches, lounging around with their friends, bathing and maybe even dancing. When active, there is usually a sexual element present:  voyeurism, seduction, harassment, assault, rape and sometimes murder. When we looked into how some revered male artists used and abused women in their real lives, we saw a lot of grazing, not just gazing. So we want to ask: does art imitate life or life imitate art?”

The Guerrilla Girls

Viewers of the billboards are then asked to go to museums, do a count of naked women vs women artists on exhibition and post their findings and comments on themalegraze.com. On this website, we will also examine the real-life bad behaviour of many beloved artists who not only “gazed” on women in their work but “grazed” on them in their real lives. 

Guerrilla Girls The Male Graze for Art Night 2021 at Compton Verney photo by Tegen Kim

“Like so many other cultural events, Art Night has had to shift and change a lot over the past 15 months; this has been strenuous for the artists, especially amidst global catastrophe. However, the moments of togetherness, politics and beauty that have transpired have been awe inspiring. Our commission with the Guerrilla Girls typifies this.  The work they’re doing builds on decades of research and activism and through the billboard commissions they are galvanising a potentially new audience to consider or reconsider the question of who gets to be represented and who holds power”. 

Helen Nisbet, Artistic Director, Art Night

The commission also includes an online gig on 26th June and a website where the public can count up and share the gender imbalance in their local collections with the Guerrilla Girls, highlighting the sexual violence implicit in art history from a British context. The project was also developed with support from Somerset House and The Adonyeva Foundation.  A further event in collaboration with the V&A Dundee AND Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), and Art Night brings together a speculative discussion on what it might feel like to be truly comfortable, truly represented in public space – whether in galleries, football stadiums, streets or parliaments on 7th July.

The billboards will be viewable at multiple locations as follows:

  • 345 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT
  • London Bridge / Borough High Street, London, SE1 9OG
  • The Anchor Inn, Digbeth – Rea Street, Birmingham, B5 6ET
  • 2 Forfar Road, Dundee, DD4 7AR
  • Cardiff, x Motorpoint Arena A – Bute Terrace, Cardiff, CF10 2FE
  • 231 Gallowgate, Barrowlands, Glasgow, G4 OTP (from 23 June)
  • 1 Warehouse, New Orchard Street, Swansea, SA1 6YL
  • A209, Lewes (opposite Elephant and Castle pub, adjacent to New Road) and Hoardings adjacent to Eastbourne Redoubt, Royal Parade, Eastbourne BN22 7AQ
  • 1364 Neath Road, Swansea, SA1 2HL (14 June – 27 June)
  • 57 Neath Road C/O Lyndu Street, Morriston, SA6 7BH  (28 June – 11 July)
  • Compton Verney, Warwick, CV35 9HJ
  • Headingley Ln., Headingley, Leeds LS6 2AS

ART NIGHT THIS SUMMER:

This summer, Art Night is expanding out of London and across the country in other ways too. Art Night commissions will also be broadcast online, for 48 hours on Tuesday and Fridays throughout the festival at artnight.london a marathon evening on 15 July where all commissions will be shown in partnership with Somerset House and on the platforms of many Art Night Partners. Art Night can be experienced anywhere in the world online. Works will also take place across London, for long term fans of Art Night to enjoy. 

Art Night 2021 artists include:  Guerrilla Girls, Alberta Whittle, Isabel Lewis, Oona Doherty, Adham Faramawy and Mark Leckey. Somerset House Studios residents Sonya Dyer, Imran Perretta & Paul Purgas, Philomène Pirecki and OOMK, co-commissioned with the support of the Adonyeva Foundation. 

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