New York- and Nairobi-based artist Wangechi Mutu builds upon her process for a new body of work in which she uses paper that has been dyed, fermented, or saturated to create abstract paintings in a total, immersive environment—as both artwork and its stage.
Routinely undertaking the objectification of the black female body within popular culture at large with a counter-narrative of assigning supernatural, mystical talents to this population, Mutu illustrates her portraits, collages, performances, and animations from varying points of reference, including medical textbooks on tropical disease, using faint outlines and traditional and grotesque female body forms that have been reappropriated back by the artist. She uses this same visual style to take on issues of mass overconsumption, tenacious sexism, and global environmental wreckage.
The new work is an outgrowth of a live, multimedia performance, and draws on both macro- and micropolitics, from international legislature and its consequences to the public depictions of and details of the lives of women in her native Kenya. The resulting site-specific action painting integrates layers of images of the Kenyan landscape with those of her artistic process, kindling the warmth and intimacy of home within an arena designed for public encounters and spectacle.