It was so clear in my mind that I first encountered Mutu in 2005 at the Tate Modern, but I can’t find anything online about any such show. They were giving out prints of her beautiful, unforgettable collages, and I can’t find the one I grabbed. Unforgettable and yet memory tricks me. Times and places meld and separate and realign themselves convincingly.
We were there for a big show with a lot of bombast and then there was just this little room off to the side—maybe a different gallery? We had already finished our visit, everyone was cranky, and I was like Wait This Is The Good Stuff. She had played brightness against darkness and collage against painting and it stayed in my mind for weeks. I say against but it’s two sides of a coin, not two sides in a fight, like this incredible light had to shine through so you could see the depth of the darkness. Or vice-versa, I don’t know.
Below some process photos show how those layers built over time. Undergirding are layers for Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and Adrian Piper. Started on April 6 and finished around the 27th–28th.
Thank you, Wangechi Mutu, for showing what is possible.