Haka (and Riot), 2019
Ink and acrylic on canvas
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Andy Song
© Julie Mehretu, photo: Tom Powel Imaging
For the diptych Haka (and Riot) Mehretu began with photographs taken inside detention facilities in Texas and California where undocumented migrant children have been detained. The artist blurred and abstracted these images with layer upon layer of digital and physical drawing, painting, airbrushing, and screenprinting, creating a distorted space filled with voids resembling sunken eyes, skulls, and orifices. These cavities seem to coalesce into a powerful, colossal form that suggests exorcism or a dancer performing the haka, a Māori war dance.