Sentinel I

Artist: Wangechi Mutu
sculpture | Paper pulp, wood glue, concrete, wood, glass beads, stone, rose quartz, gourd, and jewelry | 2210x432x559mm | 2018

In Wangechi Mutu’s Sentinels, natural and manufactured materials merge with and emerge from one another, coalescing into larger-than-life earthy, android female forms. The sculptures’ creation was made possible by the artist’s movement between both her studios in Nairobi and New York, which brought both new perspectives and new materials. In these works, Mutu radicalizes clichéd associations of nature as an eternally forgiving female-mother, and expresses a deep sense of humankind’s complex, equal and non-negotiable coexistence with one another and all organisms. The Sentinels stand as harbingers of the acute imperative to improve our relationship with each other and our planet or to accept that environmental destruction will inevitably decide our fate for us. In the kinetic sculpture Poems by my great grandmother I., the “poem” emerges from the sound of a pencil writing circles on the surface of a large aluminum pot; for Mutu, it evokes oral histories and other forms of connection between generations, which are distorted and disrupted when a culture experiences a period of colonialism.


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)