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Art as Provocation

1/24/2014 - 7/27/2014
Organizing institution: Krannert Art Museum at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Primary Curator: Kathryn Koca Polite

As a complement to the exhibition Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond, Art as Provocation features works from the museum’s permanent collection whose creators used similar tactics to confront societal inequities surrounding race, gender, or sexual orientation; to protest military conflict; or to criticize growing class disparity. The contemporary artists featured in this exhibition utilize varying forms of appropriation, humor, and subversion to make a statement on current realities and highlight the need for change. The Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of female artists, began their social critique of the art world in 1985 with posters and billboards that revealed its continued discrimination on the basis of gender and race. Their mission—of exposing these inequalities and promoting social change—declared to the public what unfortunately was already known and understood by most artists, curators, art dealers, and many others at that time. The group’s anonymity and guerrilla tactics, such as appropriating and subverting well-known artistic works, gave their collective radical impact. Their 1989 posters Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? and The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist presented hard truths that incorporated biting humor and alarming statistics.

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