Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) announce Wangechi Mutu exhibition

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) present Wangechi Mutu the most comprehensive international survey to date of works by Kenyan-born, New York-based artist Wangechi Mutu, on view 23 May–14 August 2013. The exhibition presents major installations alongside collages and video works, encompassing the last ten years of Mutu’s career.

Wangechi Mutu, Intertwined, 2003. Collage and watercolour on paper. Collection Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles. Image courtesy and © the artist.

Wangechi Mutu, Intertwined, 2003. Collage and watercolour on paper. Collection Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles. Image courtesy and © the artist.

MCA Chief Curator Rachel Kent said of the artist: ‘She blends elements of humour, pathos and sexuality in often surprising ways. Themes include human desire, conquest, empire building and alienation, expressed through and extending beyond the body’s limits.’

Mutu draws on her experience as an African woman and migrant, creating sumptuous, layered works such as collages that incorporate image fragments cut from high fashion, hunting and motorcycle magazines as well as ethnographic journals and pornography.

Mutu said: ‘My work starts with a search for the black female body and how it is represented through popular media. I look at where women are placed culturally and psychologically—how we value and devalue them—and I aim to stretch my own ideas about appropriate ways to depict the body through my art. Criticism, curiosity and voyeurism lead me along, as I often look at things I find hard to view, things that may be distasteful or unethical.’

Her videos feature the artist in a range of roles and poetically illustrate very basic activities relating to women’s work. One video sees her walking into the ocean while singing ‘Amazing Grace’ in Kikuyu, recalling the loss of life at sea on the slave ships bound for America or Europe.

A multi-sensory installation titled Exhuming Gluttony: Another Requiem (2006) features surfaces groaning with excess and suspended red wine bottles that drip their contents onto a banquet table below, creating blood-like blooms.

In another gallery, My Dirty Little Heaven (2010) is a series of collages, videos and sculptural elements combined in a dramatic interplay; long slatted tables recall those used to stack exhumed bodies following the Rwandan genocide. The work was originally commissioned by Deutsche Bank, the Major Partner of the exhibition, and created as part of the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year program.

Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi, Kenya) has trained as both a sculptor and anthropologist. Major solo exhibitions include Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (2012); Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2010); Gladstone Gallery, New York (2010); Performa 09, New York (2009); Kunsthalle Wien Museum, Vienna (2008); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2005); and Artpace, San Antonio (2004). Awards and grants include Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year, Berlin (2010); Cooper Union Urban Visionaries Awards, Emerging Talent Award, New York (2008); The Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Award, New York (2007); and the Studio Museum in Harlem Artist in Residence, New York (2003).

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
140 George Street
The Rocks
Sydney, NSW 2000