Rebecca Marimutu is a photographer and educator from New York City. Her artistic practice explores self, identity, and material tactility through photography, collage, paper sculpture, and audio-visual abstraction. Her work looks to divest from the traditional photography canon by emphasizing contemporary artists interrogating the medium’s history. She received her MFA in 2020 from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Photographic and Electronic Media, with a concentration in Critical Studies.
She's the founder and director of Anchovy Press, an independent publishing company dedicated to storytelling that centers BIPOC experiences.
Her work has been shown at Spring/Break Art Fair in New York, Waller Gallery, Catalyst Contemporary, Black Artists Research Space, and Eubie Blake Cultural Center in Baltimore, MD. She is currently an adjunct photography professor at Parsons School of Design, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and Towson University.
Artist Statement, Portrait(s) 2020 - ongoing
With my ongoing self-examination series, Portrait(s), I treat the photographic image of myself as a landscape for abstraction and deconstruction. I investigate the practice of portraiture while subverting the white gaze by concealing, obscuring, and protecting the image of myself that lies within the frame.
With my use of gridded structured collage in Portrait(s) Adhered 2021 and the incorporation of gestural materials with paint, oil pastel, and other materials in Portrait(s), Contact 2022, I subvert the ideology of the precious archival image and directly impart my hand in a physical sense onto the pictorial plane. In the current iteration, Portrait(s), Coated 2023, I build on my practice and bring the work into sculptural and dimensional space. This work incorporates photographic paper mache sculptures and coated photographic images in encaustic wax and resin, bringing the portrait into the third dimension.
My artistic practice is routed in concepts surrounding art as "the Other." In a society that juxtaposes and pushes ideas of morality, intelligence, and the like onto racial divides it has manufactured, the contemporary and historical image-viewing experience is not without its predetermined narrative manufactured to adhere in part to white supremacist ideology. Black womanists, such as bell hooks, spoke of this and art as “the Other” in Black Look, Race, and Representation. I refer to this as a foundational framework for my artistic research.
"When race and ethnicity become commodified as resources for pleasure, the culture of specific groups and the bodies of individuals can be seen as constituting an alternative playground where members of dominating races, genders, and sexual practices affirm their power over intimate relations with the Other." (bell hooks, Black Look, 23)
In this context, pleasure, to me, refers to artistic visual pleasure. As the dissemination of the image of Black womanhood is consumed more than ever, I question how I can have authorship over my image. Portrait(s) attempts to answer this question by exploring abstraction, obstruction, and concealment. I use these actions to protest, directly addressing how I am often allowed to see myself in art spaces. With my self-portraiture and my exploration of the photograph's objecthood, I look to confront the public image of me, the image of us, and revisit the ideas around Black representation in contemporary art.