Wangechi Mutu, Blackthrone VIII, 2012. Wooden chair, plastic, hair, and tinsel. 100 7/8 x 26 7/8 x 39 7/8 inches (256.2 x 68.3 x 101.3 cm). Gift of Jerome and Ellen Stern. Courtesy of the artist © Wangechi Mutu
Wangechi Mutu’s multidisciplinary practice addresses issues of gender, race, power, and survival. Born in 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu moved to the United States in 1992 to study art. Her maximalist aesthetic defies strict classification, but aligns itself with feminism and Afro-futurism. First gaining attention for hybridized collages of female figures set in otherworldly landscapes, Mutu confronts colonialism, displacement, Western perceptions of Africa, and the eroticization of the black female body in her visual language. Blackthrone VIII is part of a series of towering sculptures the artist made by posing ordinary, household chairs atop elongated legs and integrating unusual materials such as tinsel and hair. Like adorned, talismanic thrones, the Blackthrones recombine the fundamental strategies of collage and juxtaposition found in Mutu’s broader creative practice.
This work, along with Untitled (Tumor), 2006, enters the ICA’s collection on the occasion of Mutu’s commission, A Promise to Communicate (2018), for the ICA’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall. These pieces enrich the museum’s strong holdings of work made by women and sculptures incorporating found objects by artists such as Mark Dion, Rachel Harrison, Mona Hatoum, and Nari Ward.