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Details
Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972)
Shake a Tail Feather
signed, titled and dated 'Shake A Tail Feather Wangechi 2003' (lower right)
ink, watercolor and printed paper collage on mylar
66¾ x 42 in. (169.5 x 106.6 cm.)
Executed in 2003.
Provenance
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2003
Literature
M. Dailey, "Peter Norton: Collecting with a Conscience," Guggenheim Magazine, Winter 2004 (illustrated in color).
D. Singleton, Wangechi Mutu: A Shady Promise, Bologna, 2008, p. 93 (illustrated in color).
Exhibited
Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Project, Wangechi Mutu: Pagan Poetry, October-November 2003.
San Francisco, Museum of African Diaspora, Linkages & Themes in the African Diaspora, December 2005-March 2006, pp. 32-33 and 52 (illustrated in color).
Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol Museum, The F Word, May-September 2006.
Pasadena, Armory Center for the Arts, Under the Knife, March-May 2009.
Portland Art Museum, Disquieted, February-May 2010.

Lot Essay

The mysterious chimera that looms large in Wengechi Mutu's Shake a Tail Feather is a monumental example of the artist's dramatic collaged works. The contorted feminine figure is composed of a variety of elements that Mutu has harvested from a range of media sources, including fashion magazines, lifestyle glossies, and a variety of consumer publications. Conjoined, they form an enigmatic figure whose bionic form shimmers with aesthetic beauty and intrigue. The female form, and the modern representation of it, has long interested Mutu: "I always look at how women are represented [in the media]. I look at how we are composed and where we sit and what we wear. I think it reflects not only how people feel about women, but [also] how society feels about itself. I'm obsessed with it" (W. Mutu, quoted in M. Evans, "We categorize what we're afraid of: An interview with Wangechi Mutu," ArtMag, No. 59, March 2010, http://db-artmag.com/en/59/). By cannibalizing the modern media to present her own interpretation of femininity, Mutu becomes a poacher turned gamekeeper of sorts, turning the tables on the media sources who have formulated the aesthetic norms of femininity in order to use their creations to produce her own mutated version of what she feels women have become.

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