Critics’ Picks

View of “Wangechi Mutu: The Cinderella Curse.” Foreground: Muddy Waters (remix), 2007.

Atlanta

Wangechi Mutu

ACA Gallery of SCAD
1280 Peachtree Street
May 9–July 22

Kenyan-born, New York–based artist Wangechi Mutu has created a body of work that highlights women’s issues that are frequently overlooked or eschewed. Many of her pieces become recontextualized in this exhibition, titled “The Cinderella Curse,” which focuses on the physical labor endured by the “invisibles” who keep our society running smoothly. At one end of the space is Muddy Waters (remix), 2007, a large worktable piled high with blue and black clothing in a limited range of tones. Upended wine bottles outfitted with nozzles suspended above the table slowly drip their contents, as if forever marking the clothing with the sweat and blood exacted from the garment-factory workers, laundresses, and seamstresses responsible for their existence. Framing the walls is a series of the collages on Mylar for which Mutu is best known. But her usually light and lithe figures here look heavy with exhaustion as each of the eight pieces, collectively titled Sleeping Heads Lie, 2006, are composed of dense amalgamations of magazine cutouts combining human and animal features, machine parts, and hand-painted elements. Across the room, the video Cleaning Earth, 2006, shows a woman (Mutu herself) on hands and knees scrubbing a dirt floor with water and brush. It’s a futile effort: She becomes increasingly dirty as she merely pushes the mud around in sweeping circles. The surface of the gallery walls is alternately decorated with bright white pearls and diseased with reddish pockmarks, a reminder of the discrepancy between Cinderellas liberated by Prince Charmings and those condemned to serve others forever.