The advancement of technologies has provided our society with the tools to circulate and manipulate digital media with a few scrolls of a mouse, the click of a button, or the swipe and press of a finger against a screen. We are constantly engaging with popular culture via social networks, television, the radio and more. With the ease at which we can share and manipulate existing media, how do we responsibly re/share and re/create?
Through the production of their work Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into The Met. Museum?, the Guerrilla Girls critique the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) for its lack of representation of women artists in their collection. This is done successfully through their appropriation of Ingres’Grande Odalisque, but also the juxtaposition of the gorilla head and text that juxtaposed against the female nude. The Guerrilla Girls thoughtfully chose to not only appropriate a female nude that is in the Met’s collection as a starting point for their work, but also transformed the image with a witty question and a Gorilla head – a symbol of their anonymous feminist artist group and activism. The Guerrilla Girls successfully used appropriation and juxtaposition in a way that was meaningful; each of their choices in creating this work helped further communicate their call for institutional gender equality and representation.
In engaging with appropriation and juxtaposition, consumers of popular culture and artists can recreate and recontextualize original media into an original work. While there are endless possibilities in what we can appropriate and juxtapose, it becomes our responsibility to consider our intent and purpose when doing so. If it is our intent to critique popular culture, we must ensure that our decisions to appropriate and juxtapose found and existing media when creating a work resists and challenges the narratives that are mass-produced by the media.