Press release

The Facade Commission:
Wangechi Mutu, The NewOnes, will free Us
Artist's Statement

Link to Exhibition Press Release


The poised, stately figures I have created for The Met facade derive inspiration from my interest in ancient and modern practices that reflect on the relationship between women and power across various traditions, including the weighty symbols and adornments worn within certain African traditions as well as the cumbersome burdens of ornately clad caryatids. I look at the contradictory aspects of such human expressions, in which women are respected for their strength, resilience, and wisdom and yet suffer for it, too. Often the wealthier the women, the higher their status, the heavier and more enormous the marks and objects they carry. These insignia in The Seated, belonging to no one place or time, become dimension-bending tools and time-traveling mechanisms. The mirrorlike disks are instruments that trigger reflection and beckon futures in which there is hope for decency and empathy, and triumph over inequality and prejudice.

I want these figures to appear to have come from elsewhere, from afar, recently alighted in the four niches. They look as if they are charged with a role and responsibility. They have come to look and bear witness, and to reflect back to us what we are. Amid the deep existential crisis we are immersed in, The Seated—conveying a presence that is as much celestial as it is deeply human—aim to send a signal that things can and shall be different.

—Wangechi Mutu

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