Sunday, April 25, 2010


...not that these are, in themselves, green tightly curled fronds, but this sculpture was somewhere out beyond my right elbow in the Art Gallery of Ontario's restaurant, whilst I was consuming a most delectable springtime omelette involving goats cheese and, yes, fiddleheads. It seemed appropriate to be looking out onto these metallic spirals. My thanks to Jennifer to suggesting this as a place to have lunch: great food, great company.

And it was a wonderful gallery, too. I was really struck by an exhibition on the work of Wangechi Mutu, who does extraordinary collages - some large, some postcard size - of African women's bodies, their pieces cut out of magazines and collaged together, ornamented and colored and modified by intricate ink designs (and the occasional patches of earth, or stuck-on pearls). She takes, and refuses, two stereotypes: the hypersexualized black body of porn magazines, and the image of the Ethnic African Woman, complete with big earrings, cloth headdresses, etc. - cuts out some of the images, refuses to use the most titillating pieces, and refashions African women, cyborg-like, so that they are powerful, difficult, dangerous, beautiful: it's feminist art for the 2000s. And I loved the video, as well: "Cutting" - her, as an Africam woman, silhouetted against a hilltop at dawn, her machete clanging down, repeatedly, on a pile of wood - a timeless scene. Only, of course, it wasn't - that was the twist: she filmed herself undertaking this labor not somewhere in her native Kenya, but near Presidio, Texas, close to the Mexican border - so this is about the transnational repetition of hard daily labor by women, not something taking place at an exotic distance.


  1. Lovely photo Kate! And I'm delighted that the restaurant had fiddleheads on offer.

    I also very much enjoyed the Mutu exhibit! I did wonder though about the pearls that you mention and the glitter that adorned so many of her canvasses. They are beautiful, yes, but I wonder how that kind of shimmer fit into her overall theme: her refusal of both the hypersexualized and ethnicized images of African women.

  2. Maybe she just wants to have visual fun? Reclaim tacky glitter, and show that it needn't necessarily be exploitative, or tie in to patterns of objectification? Going along with the (post-feminist, or whatever one might like to call it) reasoning of - hey, why not wear make-up? short sexy skirts?