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Token on the panel? Wangechi Mutu knows what to do


#1

Wangechi Mutu “Cutting,” 2004. Image courtesy Brooklyn Museum

Writer Aruna d’Souza alerted me to this video of Wangechi Mutu speaking at MoMA back in 2007 at The Feminist Future: Theory and Practice in the Visual Arts symposium. Mutu spoke about her own work, her concerted interest in feminism, and specifically the history of the sexualization and representation of the black female body.

But she ended her talk unexpectedly by acknowledging that she is the only person of color invited to speak at the conference, and that this, in addition to MoMA’s poor representation of people of color in their exhibitions and collections, should be rectified post haste. (Fast forward to 22:15 if you just want to hear Mutu’s closing and list.) While many of us have been in similar situations, we usually grin and bear it, hoping our contributions will speak for us. Geniusly, Mutu provides a list of names of speakers that could’ve been invited to speak alongside her at that symposium.

Wangechi Mutu, “A Shady Promise,” 2006. Image courtesy Brooklyn Museum

“I’m going to read a list of names for MoMA because I’m so happy to be here and they have my work so I have to be nice about that,” Mutu says, “but I’m going to read a list of names for you so that you remember this the next time you have a conference or symposium.”

Here’s Mutu’s list:
Dr. Kellie Jones
Dr. Laurie Simms
Dr. Deb Willis
Dr. Adrian Piper
Dr. Isolde Brielmaier
Dr. Cheryl Finley
Dr. bell hooks
Howardena Pindell
Thelma Golden
Carrie Mae Weems
Faith Ringgold
Camille Billops
Renée Green
Kara Walker
Alison Saar
Senga Nengudi
Renée Cox
Lorna Simpson
Ellen Gallagher
Betye Sar
Sandra Jackson
Fatima Tuggar
Courtney Martin
Sarah Lewis
Simone Leigh
Ingrid Mwangi
Mickalene Thomas
Kira Lynn Harris
Deborah Grant
Leslie Hewitt
Xaviera Simmons
Sename Okudzeto

“And there are so many more,” Mutu closes, “Invite them next time, I can’t be the only one here.”

This list reminds me of Speakerinnen, a website hosting a searchable database of German- and English-speaking female speakers and moderators. Does anyone know if more searchable, specialized databases like this exist? Or, you know, we could just learn to search.