by Jann Haworth
We sat in the front row Rach, Sarah and me…like groupies at a POP concert. We were early and I expected such established celebrities to be late. Twisting round to check if the auditorium was full about five min. before the scheduled start time — I had to refocus on the sound box at the back because it had a Guerrilla at the controls. The auditorium suddenly felt like a space ship about to take off controlled by an angry extra-terrestrial.
Hey, but 4.5 min. later the hairy creature, now boyishly ‘guerrillo,’ loped down the aisle with it’s companion lobbing bananas at the penitent males present. SO ON-Time!! Even though they were EST gals. The first of many scored points with me.
There they REALLY were. It felt great to be a groupie. I wanted to tell them how much I laugh every time I re-read ‘The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist” that is pinned up in my studio. Also, wanted to tell them that they were on the SLC Pepper Mural right here in Salt Lake, and more … that as western women we WERE the first to wear trousers, right?
They began — anonymous in their massive guerrilla heads, backed by images admittedly not of the most robust quality; contrariwise, though, you felt that you were at a family slide show with Auntie Guerrilla showing you her holiday snaps. This wasn’t about polish, it was about content—and discontent. Where was the equality then and now?
Aunties were two of the original founders. Who? They aren’t telling. I found myself wondering as every groupie does — where were they staying? Did they go to the desk with their hairy heads on? No one would be able to take them to an after lecture dinner would they? How did they manage, did they have to get taxis? In head? What if I followed them after, would it be like Psyche lighting a candle and seeing beautiful Cupid?
You know the image of the sugar coated pill — humor in women’s art is often that — it’s not that you want to have ‘the last laugh’ or ‘if you don’t laugh you’d cry.’ There is no time for that. It’s that ‘laughter is best revenge.’ And anyway laughter is better for the lips than sour grapes.
Someone in the audience asked, “Have things changed in New York now?” “No, not really,” GG answered. Another question; “Have things improved in other parts of the United States?” “The further away from New York the more pro-woman the statistics,” was the somehow encouraging answer.
It was the very lack of polish in the delivery at the U that scored for me. It was really ‘them,’ really feminine, factual, really at home with us. Then ‘BLAM’ came the stats: 5% of the represented artists at the MET were women, 85% of the nudes were women. What’s a guerl gonna do? Get a mask and an attitude.
Guerrilla Girls visited the campuses of Utah State University (Tuesday, September 10), Weber State University (Wednesday, September 11) and the University of Utah (Thursday, September 12). For more information visit www.guerrillagirls.com
Jann Haworth is a US pop artist living in Salt Lake City, Utah. A pioneer of soft sculpture, she is best known as the co-creator of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.