Anonymous U.S feminist art collective Guerrilla Girls unveiled 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 18 June to 18 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 artists 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, launched in London, Eastbourne, Dundee, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Warwick, Swansea and Lewes and is on display in partnership with Art Nights friends Compton Verney, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Glasgow Womens Library, g39, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Grand Union, The Tetley and Towner Eastbourne. Art Night also presents this commission in two London sites in Shoreditch and London Bridge.
The Guerrilla Girls said, 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?
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 behavior of many beloved artists who not only gazed on women in their work but grazed on them in their real lives.
Helen Nisbet, Artistic Director, Art Night, said, "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".
The commission also includes an online gig on 26 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 7 July.