Wangechi Mutu. Untitled from Eve. 2006

Etching and aquatint with collage additions from a portfolio of five etchings (two with aquatint and collage additions, one with collage additions) and three aquatints (two with collage additions), composition (irreg): 8 9/16 x 5 1/2" (21.7 x 14 cm); sheet: 10 7/16 x 7 7/8" (26.5 x 20 cm). Linda Barth Goldstein Fund. © 2024 Wangechi Mutu

Curatorial Fellow, Sheldon Gooch: I am Sheldon Gooch, and I'm a curatorial fellow in the Department of Drawings and Prints, and today I'm talking about Wangechi Mutu's Eve. It is a portfolio of eight prints, etchings, aquatint, and some have digital collage elements.

Wangechi, who is Kenyan born and is currently based between both Nairobi and New York, brings a certain flair to science fiction that's rooted in an alternate reality.

I first became interested in sci-fi through television and media. There's this escapist factor that for a child, I think is great, to like leave the world and just dream up something completely different. And now I'm still drawn to it, but particularly Afrofuturism or even African futurism in which black writers are taking science fictional qualities and framing them around black characters to create alternative realities that really look to the past as it informs the present and brings about a new future.

When we look at the first print, that first E is looking backwards as if it is looking to the past, that V stands firm in its present moment in the center, and that E is on the right, in the proper placement, looking towards the future.

And in the middle We have this aquatint with some beautiful hand etching to create a female reproductive cell, an ovum. Collaged on either end are pieces from an antique gynecological syringe. These references to a history of reproductive medicine and health relates to black subjects in the history of medicine.

Really what she is doing is speaking to the way these images operate in a public realm and brings us into this discomfort to think more critically on them.

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