Two years ago I was obsessing over Kenyan-born visual artist Mutu’s work and writing gushing tumblr posts from my bedroom in upstate NY. This week I did a short Q&A with Mutu and asked about her work as artistic director on Pegasus Rising’s latest music video.
As you’d expect her responses were rich and thoughtful. She talks about the way the ‘sensual black bodies’ in the video, by citing Rodin’s bronzes, work to ‘subtly subvert the dominant Western art narrative’. Her layered answer to my question about the sheathed bodies and gagged mouths was my favourite. It touched on my preoccupation with how we relate to each other (or don’t, or almost, kinda do) and brought to mind Lygia Clarke’s ‘A relational object’.
“The figures that are trying to speak through the metallic, liquid walls also refer to sculpture. The body is trapped straining to break through its material bonds. But, more importantly, the struggle speaks to the human condition. The voice of the song is striving – trying so hard – to make contact, to get close to someone. Yet, continually encountering barriers. I decided to use this ‘mask’ to show the frustration of not being able to connect to something outside of yourself, with an image of being trapped behind something as thin as skin.”
There’s so much ambivalence in the video too, they want it and they don’t, and they kinda, almost do. There’s a moment when the woman is gently but resolutely pulling her face away from his. She’s unfurling her fingers from his neck but one of her coiled strands holds fast to one of his locks, glinting and clutching as she turns her head. The camera cuts away.