Celebrated for her recasting of African and feminist stereotypes, Wangechi Mutu draws freely upon the history of Western art and her native Kenyan culture. Her latest video, The End of carrying All, traces a woman’s journey across an ever-expanding landscape.
Mutu herself plays the protagonist. She bears a large basket on her head—a basket that is increasingly filled with consumer goods and manufactured objects: a bicycle wheel, a satellite dish, a tower, and an oil rig. At the same time, the landscape becomes increasingly barren and rocky. Eventually, the burden is too much. The woman buckles and is herself consumed. A volcanic eruption ripples through the earth; all is quiet; and then the journey begins again.
Whether The End of carrying All depicts an apocalypse brought about by human hubris and materialism, or the earth shattered by a woman’s fall, is left to the viewer to decide. “My videos provide a way for me to enact, represent, what I value about women through rehearsed movement, I guess,” Mutu has said. “I’m aware that when I’m making collages and my drawings I’m fabricating, I’m concocting. But when it comes to video, I’m there, I’m in it. I’m alive and being captured in time and space.”