Currently on view at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Alien She is a touring exhibition that examines the lasting impact of the Riot Grrrl punk-feminist movement on contemporary artists. The show’s title refers to that of a Bikini Kill song, with lyrics sung by Kathleen Hanna that begin, “She is me; I am her.”
Alien She is the first exhibition to examine the lasting impact of Riot Grrrl on artists and cultural producers working today. A pioneering punk feminist movement that emerged in the early 1990s, Riot Grrrl has had a pivotal influence, inspiring many around the world to pursue socially and politically progressive careers as artists, activists, authors and educators. Emphasizing female and youth empowerment, collaborative organization and creative resistance, Riot Grrrl helped a new generation to become active feminists and create their own culture and communities that reflect their values and experiences, in contrast to mainstream conventions and expectations.
Each artist is represented by several projects from the last 20 years, including new and rarely seen works, providing an insight into the development of their creative practices and individual trajectories. Featured artists include: Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Tammy Rae Carland, Miranda July, Faythe Levine, Allyson Mitchell, L.J. Roberts, and Stephanie Syjuco.
This declaration of solidarity despite division could also be taken as a statement of intent as Alien She divides its focus across two, temporally overlapping sections: an archival display of the cultural output of Riot Grrrls from around the world and a survey of seven artists—some contemporaneous with the movement—whose work is influenced by its politics, aesthetics, and representational and organizational strategies.1
In addition to works from the past twenty years by Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Tammy Rae Carland, Miranda July, Faythe Levine, Allyson Mitchell, L.J. Roberts, and Stephanie Syjuco, the exhibition also displays two research projects developed during its planning: the Riot Grrrl Census and a Riot Grrrl chapters map.
Riot grrrl is an underground feminist hardcore punk movement that originally started in the early 1990s, in Washington, D.C., and the greater Pacific Northwest. It is often associated with third-wave feminism, which is sometimes seen as its starting point. It has also been described as musical genre that came out of indie rock, with the punk scene serving as an inspiration for a musical movement in which women could express themselves in the same way men had been doing for the past several years.
Alien She is on view at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in San Francisco, through January 25, 2015.
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