Mutu's powerful exhibition (7 May–7 November 2021) at the Legion of Honor, a museum built for the showcase of European art from antiquity through Impressionism and presided over by Auguste Rodin's The Thinker, aims to spur, 'a purposeful examination of art histories, mythologies, and the techniques of archiving and remembering.'
Disrupting The Thinker's isolation in the Legion's neoclassical Court of Honor are two bronze Shavasana figures, limp blanketed bodies with polished nails and bright colored stilettos. Flanking The Thinker on either side, 'like a pair of powerful parentheses,' they both question and reframe the historical context of his creation – a sculptural monument to Dante Alighieri's Inferno for which The Thinker was originally conceived – in terms of, 'the violence and bloodshed of colonial invasion and exploitation' as the often unacknowledged 'hellish' subtext for 'the stories of triumph and victory of the history and the art of the Western world.'
Images: Installation view from Wangechi Mutu: I Am Speaking, Are You Listening?, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 2021
Photography by Gary Sexton
Images courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Shavasana I, 2019 and Shavasana II, 2019, MamaRay, 2020, Crocodylus, 2020 © Wangechi Mutu. All rights reserved
Courtesy the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels