This early work sets the stage for Mutu’s ongoing investigation of cultural hybridization and displacement, featuring symbols and strategies that will continue to figure in her subsequent practice. Seeking to complicate notions of racial identity, Mutu used bits and pieces drawn from many ethnicities to assemble the facial features of this creature, whose baldness only adds to her alien quality.

At once beautiful and grotesque, the figure’s body is also hard to decipher, with its multicolored patterning reading as skin or a catsuit, or both. The landscape is dotted with mushrooms— fungi that have no roots and flourish in inhospitable areas without sunlight—which can serve as a metaphor for immigration.