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Can radical subcultures like Riot Grrrl be adequately portrayed in museums?


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Alien She, 2014; installation view. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2014.

Alien She, an exhibition about Riot Grrrl, is on display at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco until January 25, after which it travels to Vox Populi in Philadelphia. In a review of the exhibition in *Art Practical*, Melissa Miller highlights the difficulties inherent to representing a sprawling, heterogenous movement like Riot Grrl in a museum exhibition:

The organization of the archive room attempts democratizing display tactics. There is one shelf of reproduced zines that viewers are able to look through, but the majority of the works are only represented by their covers. Riot Grrrls famously staged media blackouts and actively resisted representation of the movement by the mainstream media. Despite the curators’ intentions, the careful arrangement of many of these materials behind Plexiglas both refutes the zines’ original intent as publically available forms of self-presentation and produces a nostalgia associated with the closure of a specific historical moment. Although [curators] Moss and Suparak wished to honor the archive and approached it as a labor of love, this typical form of museum display dangerously presents the Riot Grrrl movement, and by extension some of the politics at its center, as a thing of the past …

How much of Riot Grrrl’s radicalness can be absorbed when its politics are encountered through the mediated experience of an art institution?

Read Miller’s review at Art Practical here.