Wangechi Mutu. Riding Death in My Sleep, 2002
Congrats to Wangechi Mutu on the opening of a major show of her work–from the 1990s to present–at the Brooklyn Museum. Longtime readers may recall that this show originally was presented at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art this spring. It was at that show that Wangechi’s collaboration with Santigold, the video The End Of Eating Everything, premiered.
According to the Brooklyn Museum site, the show is
the first survey in the United States of this internationally renowned, Brooklyn-based artist. Spanning from the mid-1990s to the present, the exhibition unites more than fifty pieces, including Mutu’s signature large-scale collages as well as video works, never-before-seen sketchbook drawings, a site-specific wall drawing, and sculptural installations.
In his coverage of the show, the New York Times’ art critic Holland Cotter writes:
Although almost all her composite figures appear to be female, gender assignment — even species assignment — is often unstable. So is racial identity: sometimes exaggerated to the point of stereotype, in other cases impossible to define. Ms. Mutu’s childhood and youth in Africa, like anyone’s childhood and youth anywhere, are of abiding interest to her, as, in a different way, is the African identity persistently associated with her as an adult in the West, most recently by an art market programmed to label, promote and discard.
Her way of staying fluid about who and what she is has been to invent her own brand of exoticism: sensual, transcultural, self-critical and increasingly sophisticated. In the process, she has become less of a collagist and more of a painter, moving her beyond initial strong stylistic debts to Hanna Hoch and Romare Bearden. And she has become more adept at varying the weight and tone of her work, so that it doesn’t fall into easy polemic or parody.
When we first covered the Duke show, I was at once thrilled for Wangechi and bummed that I didn’t have any upcoming trips to North Carolina that would enable me to see the show. Thankfully, we now have to go no further than the Brooklyn Museum!
Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey runs through March 9, 2014.