Ingrid Mwangi Hutter, Static Drift, 2001. Chromogenic color prints, Two parts, each 29 1/2 × 44 inches (74.9 × 111.8 cm). Promised gift of Isabel Stainow Wilcox, in honor of her grandfather Thomas Metcalf, trustee of the museum (1936–1946) © Ingrid Mwangi Hutter
Ingrid Mwangi Hutter is Kenyan-born and based in Germany, and her work in photography, video, installation, and performance centers on the body. In 2005, the artist and her husband, Robert Hutter, combined their names (Mwangi Hutter) to form an “artistic duo with one persona,” envisioning their creative work as formed by dual bodies, minds, and histories that merge aspects of male and female, African and European, to interrogate a univocal position. To create Static Drift, Ingrid Mwangi Hutter applied stencils to her own abdomen and allowed the sun to burn the skin, leaving parts under and overexposed on her body. In one photograph, a map of Germany is outlined in darker brown with words reading “burn out country”; and in the other, a map of the continent of Africa in lighter brown is stenciled with the words “bright dark continent.” Relating to those two places, as a biracial woman with an African father and a European mother, Ingrid Mwangi Hutter spent the first fifteen years of her life in Kenya before moving to Germany, where she lives and works to this day. The artist once mentioned that when living in Africa, she is seen as white; but in Germany, she is seen as Black. She manifests this personal experience by using color, geographical shapes, and language on her own body. Her choice of texts points to photographic processes such as burn out and to the loaded phrase “dark continent,” which was used by European colonizers to rationalize their exploitation of African people and their resources. Through this literal mapping on her own body, Ingrid Mwangi Hutter explores the ways these histories are inscribed and potentially reclaimed.