The Moth Girls of Wangechi Mutu

Kenyan-born artist Wangechi Mutu has been attracting attention since the 1990s for her depictions of black women, “tampered with and prey to strange bodily mutations.”   Moth Girls is an installation of hundreds of figures with leather wings and female legs, pinned on boards like insects.

Wangechi Mutu, Detail, “Moth Girls,” 2010, mixed media porcelain, leather, paint feathers and chalk; 14 feet 5″ by 23′ 7″ by 21’10” installed

Composed of 246 hybrid half-human, half-animal figurines with leather wings, feathered antennae and female legs, this installation is laid out in the form of entomological plates suggesting notions of the classification and hierarchization of species and, by extension, of genera (woman, animal) and peoples. – Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

The gallery environment for the work, recently acquired by the Montreal contemporary art museum,  evokes  a classroom in an African school, the Musée says.

Above: Installation as presented in 2010 at the Gladstone Gallery, New York  Photo: David Regen. Copyright: Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery.

Wangechi Mutu, born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972, lives and works in New York. She studied at Yale University, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Arts and Science, where she honed her interest in anthropology, and the United World College of the Atlantic. She first made her name in 2009 when she participated in the group show entitled Collage: The Unmonumental Picture, presented at the New Museum, New York.

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