Gorilla-masked feminist activists 'Guerrilla Girls' bring message of art inequality to New Zealand

The Guerrilla Girls have worn gorilla masks for 30 years. Since the 1980s, they have remained anonymous - but what they have done has impacted thousands of people worldwide.

Hailing from New York, the Girls clad in gorilla attire have taken on the names of famous female artists in a bid to change the ways of an entire industry.

Known for their subversive posters, the feminist activist group use a humorous approach to highlight and critique inequality in the art world - but the statistics speak for themselves. 

"If you can make someone who disagreed with you laugh, you have a hook inside their brain... Once you're in there, you might be able to change their mind about things," founding member 'Frida Kahlo' previously stated.

Gorilla-masked feminist activists 'Guerrilla Girls' bring message of art inequality to New Zealand
Photo credit: The Project / Supplied

'Frida Kahlo' had a chat to The Project on Monday ahead of her exclusive, one-night performance at the Auckland Art Gallery on Tuesday.

"It's poetry," Kahlo said about the group's gorilla aesthetic. "We were guerrillas - freedom fighters - before we were gorillas."

Kahlo says that despite some improvements in the art world over the last 30 years, things are "not going well" for women at a market level.

"But at the museum level and at the level of colleges and universities and at the level of knowledge and history, women and artists of colour are here to stay."

The most expensive piece of art by a living female artist sold for only 14 percent of the value of the most expensive piece of art by a living male artist, according to Kahlo.

Kahlo has praised the Auckland Art Gallery for reflecting on their own mistakes, recognising their lack of gender diversity in their own collection and exhibitions.

"Since 2011, only 33 percent of their solo exhibitions have been of women artists," Kahlo told The Project.

"And in their collection, only 15 percent [of art is by women artists]. I realise that doesn't sound great, but it's the future, not the past that we're thinking about.

"The fact that they have the courage to do this... makes me think you all need to hold them to the fire and make sure that in the future, they make things better."

'Frida Kahlo' will perform on Tuesday at the Auckland Art Gallery as a part of the exhibition, 'Guerrilla Girls: Reinventing the 'F' Word – Feminism'.