wangechi mutu, born 1972 in kenya.
"There's the private art-making, the haven of thinking and creating and unraveling. And then there's the other part, where you have to deal with the public: where you go out and you have to be a woman, you have to be black, you have to create a stance--it's a performative thing. So I use the body as a metaphor and as a focal point from which to engage people in this discussion of, What is your war mask and battle uniform? What is your persona when you leave and enter the world of structures? What do people expect of you? That's how the drawings came about. I took all of these psychological issues and my own personal stories and the stories of other women, and I manifested them as body injuries or mutilations or malformations or exaggerations or prostheses, as a way of talking about the need to extend, perforate, change, or shape-shift your body in order to exist. For an immigrant, there's an added layer because you're very aware--especially when you first get to the country of exile, your new home--that you've infested or invaded a place where you don't belong. The only way to keep moving around this body that is society is by mutating, so that you're not constantly the target of questions like, "What did you say?" or "Why are you here?" It's not all negative, but it can become a lot to continuously contend with being "the other." That's where these chimeras, these creatures, these women warriors come from--they're not me, per se, they're human conditions."
"Keep moving, keep changing what other people and what I consider to be the center, keep challenging myself, and keep making work and developing ideas that are a little bit more frightening every time--because you can become automatic."
(wangechi mutu in interview with barbara kruger)