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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Alien She explores legacy of Riot Grrrl at Carnegie Mellon's Miller Gallery

Why you should go: A first-of-its-kind exhibition focused on Riot Grrrl culture past and present is opening on Friday, September 20th, at the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University.

Exploring the lasting legacy and profound impact of the Riot Grrrl movement on artists, activists, authors, and educators working today, Alien She (which takes its name from the title of a Bikini Kill song) features multimedia work by seven contemporary artists, as well as from national archives, collaborative projects and platforms, and regional music scenes based in locales around the globe.

Whether you have been rocking out to the highly anticipated new album by The Julie Ruin--the latest band fronted by pioneering Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre fame--are unearthing your stash of 1990s-era zines and tapes, or just caught a screening of Sini Anderson's new documentary The Punk Singer--you are not going to want to miss this chance to explore all things Riot Grrrl.

Kicking off the gallery's fall season, Alien She provides a rarely seen look at the pioneering underground feminist punk rock movement that arose during the early to mid-1990s, including Riot Grrrl's core issues and ideas, diverse communities and cultures, and influential production and dissemination methods.

Organized by Miller Gallery director/curator Astria Suparak and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts assistant curator Ceci Moss--who are also former Riot Grrrls from Los Angeles and the Bay Area--Alien She is on view from Sept. 20th, 2013 through Feb., 16th 2014.

The compelling and tactile presentation will introduce gallery-goers to some of the core practices, shared values and key activities of Riot Grrrl, such as female and youth empowerment, collaborative organization, creative resistance, and DIY ethics. Central to Riot Grrrl is the expression and manifestation of these ideas and issues via music, zines and activism--which the public will have the chance to explore and peruse firsthand.

Focusing on seven artists whose creative practice is informed by their contact with Riot Grrrl--including integrating, expanding upon, or responding to the movement's ideology, tactics and aesthetics--Alien She features visual art, music, documentary, new media, curation, writing and performance. Featured artists are: Ginger Brooks Takahashi (Pittsburgh), Tammy Rae Carland (Oakland), Miranda July (Los Angeles), Faythe Levine (Milwaukee), Allyson Mitchell (Toronto), L.J. Roberts (Brooklyn), and Stephanie Syjuco (San Francisco). Each is represented by several projects spanning the last 20 years, including new and rarely seen works that provide insights into the development of their artistic vision and individual career trajectories, while also illustrating Riot Grrrl's "artistic diversity and mutability."

In curating the show, Suparak and Moss solicited hundreds of self-published zines and hand-designed posters from
institutional and personal archives via open calls, word-of-mouth and invitations--in turn echoing the way that the
Riot Grrrl movement itself has evolved.

"In the last year, the influence of Riot Grrrl on contemporary global culture has been obvious, such as with the international events and news involving Pussy Riot, the opening of the Riot Grrrl archives at NYU, Girls Rock Camps continuing to be very strong, and publications such as Rookie influencing younger people," says Suparak, who has closely followed the career paths of the show's participating artists. "There is also a twenty-year review that is happening as people involved in the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement, who are now in their 30s and 40s, take a moment to look back and see how their work has been an influence. This was a movement started by teenagers who made real change."

Archival materials on view include work from the Brooklyn-based queer art collective dumba; Seattle's EMP Museum; Brooklyn's Interference Archive; the Riot Grrrl Collection at NYU's Fales Library and Special Collections; Jabberjaw; and personal collections. Highlighting the collective activism of Riot Grrrl is a display of collaborative projects and platforms by the Counterfeit Crochet Project; Feminist Art Gallery (FAG); General Sisters; Handmade Nation; Joanie 4 Jackie; Learning to Love You More; LTTR; projet MOBILIVRE-BOOKMOBILE project; and Sign Painters.

The Sounds of Riot Grrrl

Riot Girrrl is renowned for its pivotal music scene--which included influential bands such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Excuse 17, Heavens to Betsy, Huggy Bear, Sleater-Kinney, L7, and Team Dresch. Via its unique display of music vitrines featuring mp3 players, show flyers and posters and rarely seen ephemera, Alien She presents the prolific output of the movement's music pioneers via a program organized by music curators from around the US, Canada, Brazil, Belgium, and The Netherlands.

Participants include: Tammy Rae Carland of Mr. Lady Records and I (heart) Amy Carter zine (American South); Pete Dale of Slampt Records and Pussycat Trash (England); Donna Dresch of Chainsaw Records and Team Dresch (Pacific Northwest); Maaike Muntinga of Riot Grrrl Benelux and Ladyfest Amsterdam + Jessica Gysel of Girls Like Us magazine (Belgium + the Netherlands); Lynne T + Bernie Bankrupt of Lesbians on Ecstasy (Canada); Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile, Girl Germs zine and Ladyfest Olympia (D.C. + Olympia); and Elisa Gargiulo of Dominatrix (Brazil).

Also featured is a Riot Grrrl Chapters Map, an online collaborative project created for the exhibition which includes chapters across 21 countries and 29 US states (with 45,000-plus views to date!).

Reflecting the gallery's reenergized commitment to exploring social issues, presenting original research and spotlighting artists working today, Alien She also includes related public programs, an interdisciplinary approach, interactive media, and a national reach. After premiering in Pittsburgh, the nationally touring exhibition will go on to Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA) the Pacific Northwest College of Art: Feldman Gallery & Project Space (Portland, OR) and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA).

Don't miss Friday's opening reception, which kicks off with a free exhibition tour led by the curators and artists at 5 p.m., followed by a reception. Get your Riot Grrrl dance moves on at the official after-party, Sappho: We don't play guitars!, taking place at Brillox from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Additional public programs include film screenings, workshops, panel discussions.

Go here to view a complete schedule of events and learn more about Alien She.

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