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The Guerrilla Girls

They first shook the art world in the 1980s. Now, after more than three decades, the Guerrilla Girls are still going, and their work has never been more relevant. Founded in New York with the mission of fighting sexism and racism within the art world, the Guerrilla Girls’ artistic arsenal includes posters, books, billboards, and public appearances to expose discrimination. They broadcast clever and cutting informational campaigns and have recently published a book, “Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly” where they share “hundreds of projects about sexism, racism, corruption and other bad behaviour in art, film, culture, and politics.”



Their most iconic poster asks sarcastically, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?”. To remain anonymous and to highlight the issues, not specific personalities, members put on gorilla masks and use pseudonyms that refer to deceased female artists. In addition to researching and exposing sexism in the art world, the Guerrilla Girls have received commissions from numerous organizations and institutions, such as The Nation, Fundación Bilbao Arte, Istanbul Modern, and Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art. Their work has also been displayed in numerous art galleries including Amar Gallery in London. Their third collaboration “Missing in Action”, which addresses racism from 1987 to the present day, can be virtually visited at missinginaction.show.



Amar Singh: “Art is absolutely a form of love”


Intent on addressing the art world’s gender imbalance, Amar Singh opened Amar Gallery to champion post-war and contemporary female artists, a collection that now includes the Guerrilla Girls, Renee Cox, and Helen Frankenthaler.






You have been a part of the art world for many years. Can you talk about this journey a little bit? What drew you to this line of work?

When I was 13, I was with my parents in the south of France, and we came across these paintings being exhibited in a church. They turned out to be by an Indian artist, and somebody at the church directed us to the artist’s house in Gorbio, a small French commune. My parents and I knocked on the door, and the artist welcomed us in, spoke about his art, and invited us to eat with him. That artist turned out to be S.H. Raza, one of the most important Indian artists in history, whose works today sell for over $4 million. I am grateful that my life is filled with stories like this; filled with a history of art, museums, and love.

You said that you opened Amar Gallery to showcase “a broad model of wonderful art that has a message.” How do youconnect art and activism? What does activism mean to you?


The message I aim to deliver through my gallery is one that champions women and underrepresented communities. The art world is nonsense but art matters, and whilst the tech industry booms, and we strive to send people to Mars in this lifetime; there should also be guardians of culture who preserve our world’s rich history of creativity. I always think of the line from Robin William’s film “Dead Poet’s Society”: “Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.” Activism, to me, means making a positive difference in the lives of others, and uplifting communities who, for whatever reason, need a helping hand.



You started working with the Guerrilla Girls in 2018. How did this collaboration start? What have you learned from each other?

I am so honoured to be able to collaborate with the Guerrilla Girls. I have exhibited their work three times: in London, in Chicago, and our most recent virtual exhibition ‘Missing in Action’. It started with me constantly messaging the anonymous Guerrilla Girls in 2016, as I was getting ready to open my gallery. Eventually, they saw the work I was doing and allowed me to include their work in my London group show ‘Eve’ in January 2018. In terms of learning from one another, I sure have learned a lot from them. They are fearless and their activism is both infectious and unstoppable. They are not afraid to call anybody out and ultimately, they have been a huge influence in my opening Amar Gallery; as they have single-handedly as a collective made sure, museums diversify their collections to include works by female artists and works that aren’t just nudes by male contemporaries!

Throughout your career, you’ve championed women in the art world and beyond. What’s next for you? Can you talk about your plans?

I am planning more exhibitions and since March is women’s month, Amar Gallery will be launching two exhibitions to celebrate women: “Champions” will be an exhibition of paintings by the rising and talented Ghanaian artist Annan Affotey, who has painted a series celebrating black women for the virtual exhibition. “I Am Not A Goddess... Unless I Say I Am” will be an exhibition that will feature 10 African female artists in partnership with the female-led Sabo Art Advisory, who are also putting on a physical exhibition in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition to this, I am working with the Los Angeles-based Film Bridge International to launch ‘Fresco Features’ to bring more LGBTQ and women- and minority-led stories to our screens. I hope to collaborate with some of the amazing talents you have in Turkey as you know I’m a good friend of the talented Turkish actress Belçim Bilgin who is also a great champion for women.

In this issue, we focus on love, whichever form it takes. Do you believe that art is a form of love? What does love mean to you personally?

Art is absolutely a form of love; we often turn to the arts to express love and to feel love whether that’s listening to an uplifting song by Aretha Franklin or admiring a photograph of our family, that’s all the arts. Creativity is such a pure expression of love, I’m reminded of what the incredible inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, said at the end of her poem The Hill We Climb: “For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it - if only we’re brave enough to be it”. This poetry is a form of love and it is also encouraging and inspiring love, unity, and positive development. For me, lovemeans caring about people deeply, caring about causes that do not directly affect you, caring about people on the other side of the world whose life has nothing to do with you, but your love and will can improve theirs; it can make the world a better place. On an even more personal level, I’m still single so I might have to work on that deeper love in my own life!

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