In Whose Image?
91.4 cm x 69.2 cm (36 in. x 27 1/4 in.)
(Nairobi, Kenya, 1972 - )
Medium and Support:
Ink, acrylic, collage, and mixed media on mylar
Partial and pledged gift of Jeanne and Michael Klein, 2005
A disturbing subtext underlies Wangechi Mutu’s beguiling work. Violence and brutality, not to mention graphic sexuality, haunt these two images of what appear, from a distance, like elegant, slightly abstracted depictions of glamorous women. This tension between beauty and horror results in large part from the diverse array of materials that Mutu employs. From fashion, pornographic, and ethnographic magazines as well as books on aerial photography, Mutu collects, crops, and assembles found photographs, supplementing them with layers of ink and acrylic to create highly personalized and strongly politicized images of the female form. Mutu’s half-human, half-monsters address such charged issues as gender relations, feminine beauty, and social and ethnic conflict in Africa.