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In the jungle of the art world: Guerilla Girls swing through Minnesota

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Don't go bananas if you spot a few gorillas in Minnesota's art museums and galleries over the next couple months. It's just part of the takeover.

The collective of activist artists known as the Guerilla Girls launched their Twin Cities Takeover Thursday night with events at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design, among other venues.

It continues Friday night at the Rochester Art Center with a discussion about Art as Social Activism.

Who are the Guerilla Girls?

Well, they keep their identities concealed by wearing gorilla masks and using the names of female artists of the past.

But for 30 years now, they've been "infamous for exposing sexism and racism in the art world," as their website puts it.

Vogue magazine notes their best known bit of activism remains a 1989 billboard that took a poke at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It noted that while less than 5 percent of the works in their modern art section were by women, 85 percent of the nudes in the museum were female.

The billboard is now on exhibit at the Walker as part of the Twin Cities Takeover.

In recent years, many of the museums criticized by the Guerilla Girls have started displaying their art. The Guerillas say more than 30 Minnesota arts organizations are part of their takeover. They also say art by or inspired by the Guerilla Girls will be popping up across the Twin Cities and beyond.

The takeover builds to a conclusion during the week of Feb. 29 through March 6, when a host of events are planned, including a multi-media show at the State Theater in Minneapolis on March 5.

Apart from the buzz their Twin Cities Takeover is generating, the Guerillas are still basking in their first appearance on network television in the U.S., which came on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" last week.

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