The building blocks for this new exhibition originate from the stories of the Agoodjie (Agoji), an army of women warriors from West Africa who served the court of the fabulously wealthy kingdom of Dahomey (now present-day Benin) in the 19th Century. The female warriors were both feared and celebrated and were said to be notorious for their merciless treatment of their enemies. The warriors are often referred to, although the true origins of their life and story are not well known.
For this body of work the artist travelled to Benin to shoot photography for the exhibition and learn more about how the story of the Agoodjie has been "simultaneously deleted and mythologized" over time.
The experience of working in Benin, a country with a deep and richly mysterious voodoo culture, is suffused throughout this outstanding exhibition that encompasses painting, sculpture and photography. In particular, Mntambo's more mystical abstracted paintings have taken on a new meaning, resembling the traditional voodoo guardians of the night, the Zangbeto, a mysterious cone-shaped effigy that is both revered and intensely feared in traditional Benin culture.