Wangechi Mutu, Untitled (Tumor), 2006. Ink, acrylic, paper, and mixed media on Mylar. 55 x 87 1/4 inches (139.7 x 221.6 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. Untitled (Tumor) resembles a fleshy tumor with sprouting hair, or a floating ball of earth with tangled roots. This work embodies Mutu’s widespread interest in sampling liberally from existing textual sources. Here, she samples from medical illustrations, nature magazines, and high fashion to produce mashed-up visions of the universe.
This work, along with Blackthrone VIII (2012), 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.
Gift of Jerome and Ellen Stern