March 15, 2018

Recap: The Guerrilla Girls x Mama Cash Feminist Festival

Did you miss The Guerrilla Girls x Mama Cash Feminist Festival in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam on March 8th? Or maybe you were there, but want to revisit some of the things you saw and heard? 

Good news! You can read our Executive Director Zohra Moosa's opening speech below, and watch the Guerrilla Girls' lecture via the link at the bottom of the page! 

Zohra Moosa's opening words
When I joined Mama Cash almost five years ago, it was so exciting for me, knowing I would be contributing to supporting the countless women, girls, and trans and intersex people around the world who are, every day, working to create a more free, equal, and just society for all of us.

Their courage and creativity are amazing to me. The risks they run and the costs to themselves are huge. And they do their work with so few resources.

Which is where we come in. Mama Cash supports these groups by providing them with money, a sounding board, access to other networks. Many of you donate to Mama Cash, and I want to thank you here tonight. I also want to thank the Dutch Postcode Lottery. With their support we are able to start a project called CreatEquality. CreatEquality will enable us to fund feminist groups who work on that sweet spot, tonight’s sweet spot, where art and activism meet.

We don’t always like to talk about it, but money is a crucial part of building social justice movements. It is what enables people with vision, creativity and perseverance to go out and fight for what’s right.

People do that in different ways, depending on their talents and passions. Some people write or paint, others organize demonstrations and some put on a gorilla mask and call out the baloney.

We welcome here tonight some of the members of a group of activists who have been calling out sexism, racism and corruption in the arts, politics and pop culture since the 1980s.

They wear gorilla masks and use aliases like Frida Kahlo and Zubeida Agha.

The reason why they choose to remain anonymous is that it’s not about them but about their cause – to name exclusion and injustice in art and culture.

In reality, most activists work in anonymity.

The activists we support at Mama Cash are constantly creating change in their communities, and their contributions often go unseen and unacknowledged. They aren’t household names and most of them will never make it into the history books. But they are shaping the course of history one hundred percent.

For some, anonymity isn’t a choice. They remain anonymous because they are ignored or even actively silenced.

Some are not permitted anonymity – they are outed and targeted for their activism.

Mama Cash backs and honours all of them.

For those of you who work in the art world, some of this will sound familiar – women artists have long been left out of the narrative. It’s a world that’s crying out for some critical self-reflection and an opening of its doors to new voices.

Why is this so important? Because artists hold up a mirror to society. They reveal the lies, secrets and silences, the hypocrisy, the emperor’s nakedness. They also show beauty, often in the most unexpected places.

Artists help us collectively imagine different futures, different possibilities. And in that imagining we need to include all voices, especially those who have been excluded.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate everything women create and achieve – the activists, the artists: the painters, writers, musicians, poets, dancers, makers – those dreamers imagining and crafting our better worlds to come.

Please do allow yourself to be inspired by everything you see and hear here tonight. Maybe put on a superhero mask of your own, and support our movements in any way you can. I look forward to moving mountains with you.

And now, without further ado, please help me welcome two activists from the collective who have been reshaping the art world with their feminist critique for decades. We don’t know their real names and we won’t see their faces, but we all know the work of: the Guerrilla Girls!

 Listen to the Guerrilla Girls' lecture at the Mama Cash Feminist Festival

 All photos by Claire Bontje

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