The Guerrilla Girls have made some surprising news. The anonymous group of gorilla-masked feminist protesters of the art world have sold their archives to a major player in the art world — L.A.’s Getty Research Institute.
Known for tackling issues of sexism and racism in the art world since the ’80s, it’s somewhat ironic that the Guerrilla Girls would make such a move. (If you’re unfamiliar with their work, think the Clits in Action (C.I.A.) from Itty Bitty Titty Committee.) Not surprisingly, many people are crying “sell out,” while others think it’s a smart move. What better way to reform than from the inside, right?
We’re about to find out. In total, about 40 boxes of their archives, including “correspondence, photos, fan mail, hate mail, sketches, notes on projects and drafts of some of our books” from 1985-2000 will reside at Getty. It’s a bit strange given that the Girls are known for public demonstrations and attention-getting posters like the famous 1989 (and again in 2004) one that asked, “Do women have to get naked to get into the Met?”
GG spokeswoman Kathe Kollwitz told The Independent that “the Getty will be able to properly catalogue it and put it online to make it accessible” and that no individual Girl will profit from the sale.
OK, that’s all makes sense. But why does something about this deal (which was actually kicked into motion about a year ago), seem so hypocritical — or does it?