The Nasher Museum presents Wangechi Mutu’s first major solo museum exhibition, the most comprehensive and experimental show for this internationally-renowned multidisciplinary artist.
Born in 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya, and based in Brooklyn, NY, Mutu tackles the issues pertaining to globalization from the margins of the Global South through her distinctive afrofuturist lens. Just as Hannah Höch and Romare Bearden were seminal artists employing the medium of collage in their respective eras and cultures, Mutu defines today’s multi-faceted 21st century global sensibility through her hybridized aesthetic. Combining found materials and magazine cutouts with sculpture and painted imagery, she samples from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry and science fiction. Her groundbreaking work combines poetic symbolism with profound socio-political critique to explore issues of gender, race, war, colonialism and the exoticization of the black female body.
With over 40 works from the mid 1990s to the present, the exhibition incorporates all aspects of her current practice including collage, drawing, installation, sculpture, performance and video. A central element of the exhibition is her first-ever animated video. Another highlight is a monumental wall drawing, her first in many years. The exhibition also unveils the artist’s sketchbooks, on public view for the first time. These intimate drawings reveal an important aspect of her creative process and provide a unique glimpse into the origins of her inspiration.
A close examination of Mutu’s stunning signature collages, including new commissions and rare early works drawn from public and private collections, will thematically focus on those depicting women located in otherworldly landscapes. Both lushly tropical and post-apocalyptic, her settings are home to cyborgian figures pieced together with parts human, animal, machine and monster that are as seductive and beautiful as they are critical and disturbing.
The entire gallery will be transformed into an environmental installation, as Mutu takes her landscape concept a step further and enables audiences to truly immerse themselves in the work. Her site-specific, cohesive installation will choreograph the movement of visitors through a tactile and sensual realm with the interconnected vibrancy of an open marketplace and the wonderment of an enchanted forest.