Wonder women

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Auckland Art Gallery is opening Guerrilla Girls: Reinventing the ‘F’ Word – Feminism! on 8 March.


Image: Guerrilla Girls © George Lange 1990

The exhibition showcases the bold, provocative and confrontational artistic practices of an anonymous collective of feminist activist artists who have been tackling gender discrimination in the arts for more than three decades. Exhibition curator Emma Jameson says, ‘The Guerrilla Girls are punk-art pioneers whose provocative poster art continues to resonate today. In an age of increasing conversations about discrimination and social injustices, the Guerrilla Girls’ work is as prescient now as ever.’


Founded in New York in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls’ activism came out of a highly charged social context of protest and change. The group’s first posters detailed discrimination by New York City’s art galleries against women and artists of colour, posing questions such as: ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?’


Guerrilla Girls, 'Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met. Museum?', 1989, from The Guerrilla Portfolio Compleat 1985-2012 + Upgrade 2012-2016, 1985-2016, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with funds from the Elise Mourant Bequest, 2018.

More than 30 years later, New York’s Museum of Modern Art is due to close their doors for the American summer to rehang their entire collection to become more inclusive of work from women and other minorities. In April, London’s Tate Britain will be opening a new exhibition called Sixty Years, which focuses on female artists. The Tate have also planned numerous exhibitions across all of their galleries with the same goal. This includes monographic exhibitions dedicated to Natalia Goncharova, Dora Maar and Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern, Sol Calero at Liverpool, and Otobong Nkanga at St. Ives.


In our own back yard there are many wonder women. This year marks 150 years of Frances Hodgkins. Art Zone #78 has a feature on the modernist painter, and how galleries across New Zealand are celebrating her birthday. In Wellington a huge mural of Rita Angus has been painted on the Dominion Building. Last year Ruth Buchanan won the Walters Prize for her presentation of BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS, 2016/2018. Roberta Thornley is the most recent recipient of the Arts Foundation’s Marti Friedlander Photographic Award.


Frances Hodgkins, 'Self portrait: still life', ca 1935


Exhibitions showcasing Kiwi female artists are on all around the country. Here are a few to check out:


  • Photographer Conor Clarke has an exhibition the end of wordsworth street at Sarjeant Gallery until 17 March.

  • Until 18 March, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has an exhibition of Maureen Lander’s Flat-Pack Whakapapa, which explores connections between families and friends.

  • New Zealand-Korean artist Yona Lee’s In Transit is on show at City Gallery Wellington until 24 March.

  • Pātaka Art + Museum is showcasing the 27th Annual Wallace Art Awards 2018 Winners and Finalists, including Paramount Award winner Refusal to Yeild by Imogen Taylor, until 24 March.

  • Alexis Neal’s Puāwai opens at Solander Gallery on 13 March.

  • Winner of the Fulbright-Wallace Arts Trust Award, Emma Fitts, is showing Towards Another Figure at Ashburton Art Gallery, until 7 April.

  • Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū displays Lonnie Hutchison’s Hoa Kōhine (Girlfriend) which explores women friendships. The intricately cut-out billboard is a long term exhibition.

  • New paintings by Saskia Leek are at Dunedin Art Gallery until May as Early Telepaths.

  • A long term exhibition of work by Tiffany Singh, Tiffany Singh: Indra’s bow and Total internal reflection, can been seen at Te Papa’s Toi Art.

  • In addition to Guerilla Girls (on until October), Auckland Art Gallery are exhibiting Collective Women: Feminist Art Archives from the 1970s to the 1990s, until the end of June.




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