In her series Histology of the Different Classes of Uterine Tumour, Wangechi Mutu uses 19th century medical diagrams as a basis for invented portraiture. The original illustrations, symbolic of colonial power, suggest a wide range of cultural pre-conceptions: from the 'superiority' of European 'knowledge' to the classification of nature (and consequently race) into genealogical hierarchies. In Uterine Tumor, Mutu challenges these imposed values, using physical disease as a metaphor for social corruption.
The Saatchi Gallery: Collage of Wangechi Mutu
Wangechi Mutu uses collage as a means of both physically and conceptually bringing layered depth to her work. Using images cut from fashion magazines, National Geographic, and books about African art, Mutu pieces together figures which are both elegant and perverse. Individual body parts comprised of found 'objects' are made to seem like odd prosthetics glued over torsos and limbs drawn in ink. In Untitled, Mutu's surface uses these conflicting textures to draw a wide range of connotations: from glamour models, to dyed fabrics, diseased skin, and science fiction special effects. Her goddess-like figure becomes an embodiment of the disjointed facets of modern Africa, caught in the flux of Western preconception, internal turmoil, ancient tradition, and blossoming future.