Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kara Walker at Whitney

Kara Walker, an artist who I admire a lot for her honest thoughts on the human condition as it pertains to black people in America has a retrospective opening tomorrow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave.

Employing iconic black-paper silhouettes, Kara Walker — who was named one of Time's "100 Most Influential People" earlier this year — sparks a tense dialogue between artist and viewer with her installations and animated films. Her scathing retelling of American history through images of sexual violence, racial stereotypes, and antebellum mores finally receives the retrospective treatment.

In her installations she uses highly crafted Victorian paper cutout silhouettes to create a dense narrative. But these seemingly bucolic landscape scenes are repeatedly disrupted by images of dismemberment and perverse, abusive and humorous sexual liaisons. In one example, in "Look Away!...," an old man with his pants down is on his hands and knees. He is tempting a child while a dog licks his ass and a woman, with her back turned to them, smokes a pipe and grooms her dog.

A review of her art in NY times from last year. If you can get your hands on the October 8th, '07 issue of the New Yorker, you do not need any other review to understand her brand of art. Unfortunately, I could not locate an online version for linkage here. An interesting bit from the article refers to a talk Kara gave at the Des Moines Art Center where at the end of her talk a white male approached her and asked how long she intended to make the type of work she did. "Oh, probably as long as I'm black and a woman" was the quick answer from Ms. Walker.

Link to images of her art on the New Yorker site.


Tree said...

I have mixed feelings about her art. Not sure I like it that much. I did enjoy, if that's the right word, her piece for the cover of the New Yorker. It's based on Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa, which is a great painting.

Sunil said...

Why do you have mixed feelings? I am curious....