I plan to return I am returning. "
"Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.”
-- Edward Said
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Wangechi Mutu titled Nitarudi Ninarudi, Kiswahili for I plan to return I am returning. Located in all four galleries, NitarudiNinarudi, Mutu’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, includes a major video installation as well as new collages and sculptural works.
In this new body of work, Mutu continues to address perceptions of conflicting cultural projections played out on the body through her contemplations on race and gender. Her hybrid beings, still fused and molded from plants, animals, machines, porn imagery and medical illustrations, are populating her collages in ever widening ranges of materials, but the tone of the work has shifted towards a deeper exploration and disclosure of the artist’s own experience in the Diaspora. In this exhibition, ideas around longing, memory, and exile resonate and subvert traditional notions of a singular place of origin. Fusing her Kenyan experience with inflections of other cultural influences, the work calls into question any notion of a static identity and firmly rejects the centralization and dominance of Eurocentric constructs within and outside of her homeland. Nitarudi Ninarudi expresses the complexity of longing for a place that is alive in the memory in a very different way than in the physical reality – a place as evasive and fleeting as the identities one negotiates when they are relocated, bringing into play issues of transformation, translation, and even personal survival. Wangechi Mutu’s interest in the subtle distinction between Nitarudi and Ninarudi is embedded in the ever-so-slight difference between the desire and promise to return, versus the absolute insistence and the capability to come back to a place. Home transforms from a condition of being exiled, into a place (due to the shift in circumstances) one can actually envision themselves in. The dual existence, split identities, broody ambivalence, and the feeling of being inside a place, whilst trying to create a space for an alternate experience outside of that place, is captured in these new objects and painted collages, and their respective arrangements.
Wangechi Mutu earned her MFA at Yale University in 2000 and a BFA at Cooper Union College, New York. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany, the Wiels Museum, Brussels, Belgium; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, at the Miami Art Museum, at ArtPace, San Antonio, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-Baden, Germany, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, Canada, Kunsthalle Wien, Project Space Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria, as well as Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY, and Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK, among others.
Recent group exhibitions include the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TX; La Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, Arnhem, Netherlands; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; “30 Americans”, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Prospect.1 New Orleans, The New Orleans Biennial, New Orleans, LA; the Bronx Museum, NY; The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, CA; the Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK; The Third ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, International Center of Photography; the Vancouver Art Gallery, BC, Canada; The 10thLyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France; the San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ; Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, Houston, TX, The New Museum, New York, NY, DESTE Foundation, Athens, Greece; the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, CO; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Royal Academy of Art, London, UK; SITE Santa Fe’s 6th Biennial”, SITE Santa Fe, NM, “The 2nd Seville Biennale”, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Sevilla, Spain, the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Kunstpalast Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Hayward Gallery, London; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Wangechi Mutu has been awarded the Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” award and she is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, the Cooper Union Urban Visionaries Awards, Emerging Talent Award, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Award New York, NY; and the Chrysalis Award, The Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, New York, NY.
In 2013 she will have an exhibition at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, as well as Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery in Philadelphia and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City. Her work will be featured in the 2012 Kochi-Muziris Bienniale, held in Kochi-Muziris, India.