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Guerrilla Girls Point Out Boston MFA’s Poor Female Representation in Amicable Protest

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The notorious feminist artist-activist group the Guerrilla Girls staged their latest protest art-as-institutional critique piece outside the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston recently when they had a billboard truck adorned with an image of a nude, gorilla-masked woman and the words “Do women have to be naked to get into Boston museums?” drive up to the main entrance of the Beantown institution.

The billboard, which also included the embarrassing statistic that “only 11 percent of the artists [in the MFA's collection] are women,” made its debut on September 7 as a way of also calling attention to the Guerrilla Girls’s exhibition at the Montserrat College of Art Gallery in nearby Beverly. That gallery’s director and curator Leonie Bradbury made sure to warn the MFA about the incoming protest, Boston.com reports.

“It’s not very guerrilla, but it was a professional courtesy,” Bradbury said. “Obviously, the institution here is nervous about the billboard being perceived as our institution critiquing them, the MFA. It’s being respectful of your colleagues.”

The larger institution responded enthusiastically, even tweeting at the time: “33 percent of artists in our contemporary wing are women … so we’re improving!” The MFA’s senior curator of contemporary art Jen Mergel told Boston.com that the contemporary galleries’ female representation is closer to 40 percent, but that the Guerrilla Girls’s larger point remains valid.

Those who missed the billboard the first time around will get another chance to see it on October 5, when it returns to Boston to coincide with the First Fridays art events in the SoWa gallery district.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image via Guerrilla Girls.)

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