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Wangechi Mutu - I Am Speaking, Are You Listening?

This film takes us on a poetic journey into Wangechi Mutu’s exhibition, "I Am Speaking, Are you Listening?" Over two decades, Mutu has created captivating constellations with powerful female characters, hybrid entities, and fantastical landscapes, blurring boundaries between human, animal, plant, and machine. Hailing from both Nairobi and New York, Mutu challenges colonialist, racist, and sexist perspectives, projecting an alternate universe informed by Afrofuturism, post-humanism, and feminism. The exhibition at the Legion of Honor disrupts tradition, exploring "art histories, mythologies, and archiving techniques."

Mutu's exhibition challenges art histories, mythologies, and archiving techniques, disrupting The Thinker's narrative. Bronze Shavasana figures redefine the statue's historical context, revealing the violence of colonialism. Mutu introduces new works blending Western and African influences, prompting contemplation of a world marked by understanding and care. In her film set in Kenya's Rift Valley, Mutu, portrayed as a horned mythic creature, seeks wisdom—a dance and prayer symbolizing her belief in art's power to address global injustices.

Mutu encapsulates her philosophy, referencing René Descartes: “It was René Descartes who said, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ right? So, it would therefore follow, ‘I am because art makes my thoughts visible.’”

The film kicked off and wrapped up in Marin Headlands, showcasing a stunning water view. It highlighted Wangechi's connection between land and water, with a nod to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge marking our presence in San Francisco.

The journey from the museum to Marin Headlands wasn't a walk in the park. It was a challenging trek, and our small crew had to split into teams to handle the gear. In Marin Headlands, cell service was almost non-existent, and the only way to communicate was to climb up a trail—an uphill struggle.

As the sun set, threatening our plans, I found myself rushing back and forth on rough terrain during our quick 10-minute sprints. In one of these sprints, I got word that Wangechi needed to leave as we were slightly behind schedule, interfering with her previous arrangements. So, I hurried down, practically pleading for her to stay, explaining the challenges we faced and our determination to overcome them. In that moment, she recognized my sincerity and dedication to the film and her work. Her kindness prevailed, and she insisted we hurry to capture one last take. It was a moment of shared understanding, a reminder that honesty and humility can work wonders.

Thank you, Wangechi, for believing in me and that last shot.

  • Curator: Claudia Schmuckli
  • Director: Dawit N.M.
  • Agency: Supervillian
  • CD: Nam Nguyen
  • Digital Production Manager: Courtney Fallow
  • Production Company: Couscous
  • Producer: Salim El Arja
  • Executive Producers: Bear Damen & Salim El Arja
  • Line Producer: Marita Gomsrud

  • DoP: Htat Htut
  • Steady Cam: Aaron Gantt
  • 1st AC: Corey Bringas
  • 2nd AC: Esther Isabel
  • Key Grip: Patrick Walsh
  • Grip: Michael Nayfie

  • HMU: Jonathan Reisfeld

  • CCO: Lynda Stenge
  • Editorial: Ababa Studio
  • Color: MPC — Dimitri Zola
  • Sound Design: Mortiz Staub  — StauB Audio
  • Music Composition: Nyokabi Kariuki

  • Camera: Arri LA
  • Grip: J.L Fisher 

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