philadelphia

Kara Walker

The Fabric Workshop and Museum

Fascinating and treacherous, Kara Walker’s new multimedia installation, titled Fibbergibbet and Mumbo Jumbo: Kara E. Walker in Two Acts, 2004, reconstructs a swamp-side antebellum campsite that happens to be haunted by a phantasmagoria of colored projections. Silhouettes of tall willow trees and knee-high grass, cut from sheets of plywood and painted black, encircle a burlap tent in the middle of the gallery. Dangling from string overhead is a frightening swarm of black crows cut from paper. Visitors are welcomed by a jagged signpost on which are projected “aphorisms” about black women (“Many black women are noisy during intercourse”). Openly theatrical rather than coherent or naturalistic, the mise-en-scène also involves nineteenth-century moving-image techniques. Behind a semitransparent backdrop that portrays a faint country landscape drawn with coffee stains spins a cyclorama that

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