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My Dirty Little Heaven

Wangechi Mutu's solo Deutsche Guggenheim show featuring new sculpture, collage, video and installations

by Wendy Dembo in Culture on 28 April 2010

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With much of her art focused on African diaspora and the female form, Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu transformed the Deutsche Guggenheim into a cocoon-like setting to aptly display the new works in her upcoming solo show, "My Dirty Little Heaven." Named "Artist of the Year 2010" by the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, Mutu's works are often as complex as the themes that surround them.

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Mutu's background as a trained sculptor is apparent—her bold collages and poignant site-specific installations are layered with found photos blended together to create body parts, flowers, cars, glitter, fur, and paint. Using duct tape and gray felt blankets she created a backdrop for the exhibit that feels both protective and dilapidated, referencing the pieced-together housing found in shanty towns, places Mutu feels are extremely impoverished yet bursting with creativity. She relays that her exhibition is an homage to these towns, where the people are tenacious and are "actually quite ingenious because they’re still alive despite the conditions they live in."

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Earning an MFA from Yale University, Mutu is as insightful about cultural affairs as she is artistic techniques, making for a highly intelligent and well-composed exhibition. Her collages vary in size from large Mylar works to pieces made on a postcard, each thoroughly conceived and undoubtedly portraying her interest in creating a "human economy."

"My Dirty Little Heaven" opens 30 April and runs through 13 June 2010.

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