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Primavera 2016

29 Sep - 04 Dec


Louise Hearman

29 Sep - 04 Dec

Mca Collection

MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday

01 Sep - 31 Aug

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28 Oct, 7.00pm, MCA

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11 Nov, 1.30pm, Level 2: Veolia Lecture Theatre

– News from inside the MCA

Fairfield Eating Excursion

Women of Fairfield co-curator and PYT Artistic Director, Karen Therese takes us on a food safari through Fairfield, Sydney. more

Please Touch: Tactile Tours for Families

Artist Educator, Brook Morgan gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the development of this new program for families. more

Interview with September film curator Adrian Martin

James Vaughan speaks to Australian arts critic and audiovisual artist Adrian Martin about the month of contemporary Portuguese cinema he has guest curated for the MCA more

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Works from the MCA Collection

Collection Artist Interviews

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Joint acquisitions by MCA and Tate

The Program promotes Australian art globally, helping Australian artists reach new audiences.

Wangechi Mutu

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


23 May to 11 August 2013

Curator: Rachel Kent

About the exhibition

Wangechi Mutu is known for her artworks in which she mixes media and appropriates imagery from diverse popular sources. Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1972 and based in New York, Mutu draws on her experience as an African woman and migrant, creating sumptuous, layered works that explore ‘otherness’ and themes of alienation, race and female representation. Spanning the previous ten years of her career, this exhibition represented the artist’s first major presentation in Australia. It comprised a series of installations or spatial environments across the MCA’s Level 1 Galleries that visitors could walk through and around, encountering objects, videos and collages, as well as constructed and painted elements that had been created especially in the spaces.

Mutu’s collages incorporate image fragments cut from high fashion, hunting and motorcycle magazines as well as ethnographic journals and pornography. Joined together in imaginative human, animal and machine formations, they are augmented by delicate watercolour imagery and embellished with costume jewellery, glitter, fur and dried plant matter. Scale is significant for Mutu’s collages, which range from postcard and A4 scale works on paper through to much larger works on sheets of polyester. Central to the works is a search for the black female body and how it is represented in popular media: in the artist’s words, “where women are psychologically and culturally placed, and how we value or devalue them.”

Principles of accumulation and layering extend beyond Mutu’s collages to encompass her sculptures and mixed media environments. In these works, she combines diverse materials to create meaning: packing tape ‘mountains’ and moons made from sagging fur pelts; ceremonial ‘trees’ fashioned from grey felt blankets, with drooping fruits made from garbage bags and string; elevated, theatrical chairs or ‘black thrones’ adorned with tinsel and feathers; and suspended wine bottles that drip their blood-like contents onto tables on the floor below.

Mutu’s use of humble materials from everyday life, and her embrace of messy splendour, does away with the pristine ‘white cube’ often associated with museums. Her galleries were instead lively, colourful spaces, filled with makeshift forms and tactile surfaces. Walls were pock-marked with red, chiselled gouges that resemble flesh wounds, distressed with hand-painted water stains, or covered by blankets as if to protect or insulate them. There was a sense of gluttonous excess in some works, an idea that is played out through the incorporation of groaning banquet tables that might, alternately, double as biers for corpses.

Mutu’s lavish environments were expanded, in some instances, by videos that feature the artist herself in a range of roles associated with women’s work. These modestly staged pieces were the only instances in which Mutu comes to the fore, revealing herself physically yet remaining silent, her body instead speaking volumes about the suffering of women in impoverished or conflict-riven circumstances.

Major partner: Deutsche Bank

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