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Magnificent Monkey-Ass Lies

Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972—) Magnificent Monkey-Ass Lies, 2004 Paint, ink, collage, mixed media on mylar 42 × 78 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee and a gift from Jerome Stern, New York 2004.13.4

Wangechi Mutu focuses on the misrepresentation of women's bodies and the stripping of their sexual autonomy in contemporary African politics and culture. Her work often centers around amorphous female figures whose suggestive poses relate to the racialized sexism and exoticism imposed on African women. Here, a chimeric woman-animal with talons for feet gazes at a feathered monkey, which perches on her hand and smiles at her coyly. They are set against a blank background, save for occasional spurts of blood-pink paint, and it is unclear which figure holds the power.

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