Fair  March 30, 2018  Megan D Robinson

Guerrilla Girls Make Art History at Art Basel Hong Kong

Courtesy of Asia Art Archive

Women Make Art History, Asia Art Archive's program at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2018.

Featuring over 3000 artworks from 248 galleries, Art Basel Hong Kong opened this week with the $35 million sale of Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XII (1975). Given that all other major first day sales were male artists, the status quo could use some shaking up, especially in Women’s History Month. Enter the indomitable Guerrilla Girls, feminist art activists based in New York. Known for their signature blend of humor, hard facts and bold graphics, the Guerrilla Girls have been fighting for gender and racial equality in the art world since 1985. Members wear gorilla masks and use pseudonyms based on deceased female artists, so their identity doesn’t distract from their message. 

Courtesy of Guerrilla Girls.

The Guerrilla Girls, Is it even worse in Europe?, 2016.

The Asia Art Archive (AAA) brought the Guerrilla Girls to Hong Kong for their first presentation in East Asia as part of their Women Make Art History program. The Guerrilla Girls started off the week with a lecture at Hong Kong University. Original founders “Frida Kahlo” and “Kathe Kollwitz,” along with 10-year member “Zubeida Agha,” entered throwing bananas at the audience and took no prisoners in their critique of the Hong Kong art world. Their lecture, Not Ready to Play Nice, had an enthusiastic audience of 800 people. They facilitated a conversation about women in art at AAA’s booth March 27th, and have a continuing installation project, Women Get Resentful: Guerrilla Girls Interactive Project and Video, on view throughout the fair. As part of the installation project, fairgoers have eagerly volunteered to help the Guerrilla Girls and AAA track the number of women artists showing at Art Basel Hong Kong.

Courtesy the Guerrilla Girls.

The Guerrilla Girls, Is it even worse in Europe?, 2016.

In addition to the Guerrilla Girls’ installation, the AAA booth highlights the Indian autonomous women’s movement of the late 1970s and 1980s; Pakistan-based artist Salima Hashmi; portraits of women artists in China by art historian and curator Joan Lebold Cohen; and an exhibition of Asian women artists from the 1990s and 2000s.

Art Basel Hong Kong is open to the public March 29 to March 31. For more information, visit https://www.artbasel.com/hong-kong/at-the-show

If you're at Art Basel Hong Kong, be sure and visit the Guerrilla Girls and the Asia Art Archive at Booth P7, Level 1 Concourse. 

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.