Photo courtesy of the artists
Photo: Lois Greenfield

Secret Identities (1999)

The Guerrilla Girls discuss the historical exclusion of women artists, writers, and performers in Secret Identities (1999). Concealed behind gorilla masks, the Guerrilla Girls take on the names of dead women artists—Claude Cahun, Julia de Burgos, Audre Lorde, and Ana Mendieta, among others—as a feminist gesture to counter the erasure of their artworks by mainstream cultural institutions. Furthermore, this piece includes footage of Guerrilla Girls street actions targeting museums that have largely excluded women artists in their public exhibitions and permanent collections. Several women artists are listed at the end of Secret Identities as a political act to re-inscribe their names into art history, which has otherwise failed to recognize such artists’ contributions to the field.

The GUERRILLA GIRLS are an anonymous women’s collective that takes on the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms for interventions. Concealed behind gorilla masks in action, the Guerrilla Girls use various tactics to intervene in art, culture, and politics. Through the production of printed materials, publications, and performance actions, the Guerrilla Girls expose political matters, convey information, and provoke discussions in public contexts. Notorious for exposing the exclusion of women artists, the Guerrilla Girls have staged interventions at the Museum of Modern Art, Venice Biennale, and Centre Georges Pompidou, among other venues. The Guerrilla Girls’ artwork is presented from feminist and humorist perspectives.