A brief encounter with a textiles installation….
I’m not familiar with the work of Wangechi Mutu and came across her first Australian show at the MCA by chance. I love going to exhibitions by artists I don’t know almost as much as the known and loved, because I really value the thrill of discovery and recognition. This was not one of those electric moments, but the work was intriguing enough to keep me lingering a long time.
After one viewing and a bit of research I can’t really say I “get” Mutu, but I enjoyed her larger installations, and in particular the textile-y Perhaps the Moon Will Save Us (2008), a dim lunarscape made up of blankets, foil, plastic, photos, pelts, paint, and ink, which the visitor meanders through.
The first 30 seconds of the video below show this work.
Wangechi Mutu was born in Kenya and is based in New York. She works in collage, drawing, sculpture, installation and video and her themes include beauty, colonialism, race and gender. She has a consistent aesthetic which is a little mannered for my taste. Her collages are phenomenal, clever and political. My luke-warm review I think has more to do with my state of mind than the show itself, I simply wasn’t in the mood for this kind of primal, animistic work, and did not connect.
I wanted to mention the exhibition on this blog for two reasons. Firstly, because I’m interested in large scale and installation textile works, and it is fairly rare to come across them. The other reason is to record my lack of connection. It sounds like I’ve dismissed Mutu’s work outright but in reality the discomfort of the exhibition has stayed with me. I expect she may be an artist I return to when the time is right, and she will speak to me then, and I will hear.