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Copyright © 2007 by Guerrilla Girls

THE BIRTH OF FEMINISM in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

As part of the group exhibition BODY POLITICX at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Arts in Rotterdam we hung a three story long banner version of our movie poster 'Birth of Feminism.' Below is the introduction to the essay "Diary of an Exhibition: On the Path to BODYPOLITICX" written by Florian Waldvogel.


Welcome to the cinema. Welcome to the showroom of forbidden glances. Welcome to the magnetic field of an art dedicated to the fragile three-way relationship between body, lust and image. A film poster on the façade of Witte de With's building introduces the theme: on it is written The Birth of Feminism (2001).

This announces a film that can only be played in our heads. Three actresses, who were the best-known sex symbols at the time of the work's production, pose on the poster as pin-up girls: Pamela Anderson, Halle Berry and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the leading actresses for a film whose title aludes to D.W. Griffith's classic The Birth of a Nation (1951). Guerrilla Girls - an anonymous collective in existence since 1985 with an undefined number of members who always appear in public wearing gorilla masks - have concerned themselves since their inception with the feminist-inspired, witty infiltration of prevailing meaning - production in popular culture, art and advertisements, linked to blind spots in (art) institutional practice.

The banner reading "Equality Now" placed across the hips of the Hollywood stars alludes not only to the name of an international womens' rights organization founded in 1992, but can also be read as the smallest common denominator of the diverse actvities carried out by the three American feminists supposedly portrayed in this fictive film: Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy and Bella Abzug. Steinem is the founder of the US magazine Ms. In 1963, she worked as a bunny in New York's Playboy Club, in order to investigate the working conditions for young women in Hugh Hefner's empire. Pamela Anderson, on the other hand, has become a global pin-up as the Baywatch nymph, and to date has been photographed 12 times for Playboy magazine. Steinem was in close contact with Halle Berry's character, Florynce Kennedy. Kennedy is an African-American civil rights activist, who founded the Feminist Party in 1971. Bella Abzug was a Congresswoman, a Member of Parliament from 1970-1976 and an activist in several international womens' organizations.

The poster names as the film's director the chronicler of presidents, wars and other strokes of fate demanded by male heroes and their epics: Oliver Stone. The man responsible for the soundtrack is the white US rapper Eminem, who - in his artistic delirium consisting of cascades of dirty words - relishes the role of the "bad boy," calling his own mother a whore and stylizing himself as the victim of women and as a woman-hater: The Birth of Feminism in a spirit of lustful, ironic misrepresentation. The impossible blockbuster is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, one of the most successful Hollywood players, who financed amongst other films Pirates of the Caribbean (2003), which served as a blueprint for the most expensive porn film to date: Pirates (2005). In this way, too, signs can fall victim to pirates.