via wangechi mutu
via wangechi mutu
ART COLLAGE: Wangechi Mutu by Alexandra Thom ART: Wangechi Mutu & Collage: A Fantastic Journey at the Brooklyn Museum by Alexandra Thom
  Consider Le Noble Savage, the title image for Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, now open at the Brooklyn Museum. A woman with snakes emerging from behind her bald head stands, one hip cocked, one arm akimbo, the other stretching upward to support a palm tree, ripped from the ground, swarming with tropical birds and flecks of bold color. Her raffia skirt mimics the roots of the tree she holds up like a beacon towards the sky. Mutu has built her own African goddess from images that typically denote Western stereotypes of Africa—tribal, primitive, exotic. Mutu’s critical voice echoes throughout A Fantastic Journey, the first survey of Mutu’s work in the United States. With works spanning from the mid-1990s to the present, the exhibition incorporates all aspects of her current practice including collage, drawing, installation, sculpture, performance, video, and her sketchbooks, which have never been seen by the public.
 
The predominant subject of Mutu’s work is the female body, particularly as it bears the marks of society, history and place. Her 2001 Pin-Up series features images of grinning women with disfigured, amputated limbs – at once delicate and horrifying. The notion of a “pin-up,” a so-called ideal image of feminine beauty, is one ripe for subversion and Mutu does just that, in the most seditious of ways. The series was inspired by violence in Sierra Leone, where an illegal diamond trade fueled fighting that maimed many civilians.
 
~Alexandra Thom
 
October 2013