Hood Quarterly, winter 2004
Double Fuse (2003), by the Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, blends drawing, painting, and cut-out fragments of imagery from fashion, wildlife, travel, and motorsports magazines into seductive and powerful women who confront Western stereotypes and representations of native, marginalized, and non-European women. Upon closer inspection, however, the incongruity of shapes, sizes, textures, materials, and colors create figures that are more reminiscent of cybernetic constructions than of humans.
Mutu, who plays with such dichotomies as biological/artificial, human/machine, black/white, soft/hard, feminine/masculine, and Western/non-Western, teases out the boundaries between balance and disproportion, beauty and deformation. Her hybrid women become shocking parodies of stereotypes pertaining to the exotic native woman, forcing the viewer to question assumptions about race, gender, geography, history, and beauty.