Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Title

Woman's Art Journal








[First Paragraph] The exhibition for which this book is the catalogue opened at the Nasher Museum at Duke University before travelling to Brooklyn, Miami, and Evanston, Illinois. The show and book feature Wangechi Mutu's (b. 1972) signature collages, in which she places imagery from fashion, porn, mechanics, and "ethnography" alongside drawn and painted elements in order to deconstruct colonialist fantasies of the black female body as a site of exotic sexuality. By juxtaposing accepted signs for nature versus technology (tall grass and motorcycle parts, for example) and performing in her videos the ritualized actions of eating, cleaning, and destruction (most notably in the gripping and poignant Eat Cake of 2012), Mutu is able, according to art historian Kristina Stiles, to "expose the ideological social function of images" (55), and to "dismantle visual regimes that contribute to repression" (53). Stiles thesis is that Mutu's is an activist art, because if representation is a form of control, it's hijacking and mutation offers liberation. Examining Mutu in light of postcolonial theory, Stiles finds that her fragmented narratives and totems accomplish "intersubjectivity," or the simultaneous validation of and empathy for various perspectives (31-32).


Posted with the permission of the publisher and the author.

Original Publication Citation

Colaizzi, V. (2014). Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, by Tevor Schoonmaker, Kristine Stiles, and Greg Tate. Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University: Durham, 2013 (book review). Woman's Art Journal, 35(2), 47.