PRINT April 2007


Kara Walker, Darkytown Rebellion, 2001. Installation view, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2007. Photo: Cameron Wittig.

Kara Walker’s work seems to have always brought out the worst in her. Sadomasochistic, drunken, sexist, child-molesting racial profiles from some dawn time of rococo premodernism mingle and cavort, locked in unaffirmative action. One wonders if even she initially grasped the range of pictorial and associative possibilities in her signature resuscitation of the eighteenth-century silhouette portrait nearly fifteen years ago. What began as a way to paint without painting evolved quickly through the reciprocal feedback of process and subject into a Rorschach typology of horrible and seductive master and slave archetypes, embedded in twisted social rituals and opaque narratives. By 1994, with mural-size installations like Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart, the silhouettes had become life-size projections

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