new-york

Kara Walker

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Narrative, as Toni Morrison pointed out at the height of pomo metafiction, might be an exhausted concept for white male writers who regard formal experimentation as a higher calling. But the unmediated African-American female voice is a newer entity both in fiction and in contemporary art, and one for whom narrative is still far from used up. There’s a narrative somewhere in Kara Walker’s second film, Eight Possible Beginnings Or: The Creation of African-America, Parts 1–8, A Moving Picture By: Kara E. Walker, 2005, though it’s resolutely nonlinear, continually wandering off and fetching up at the crossroads of history and fiction, of biography and autobiography, of comedy and tragedy.

As in most of Walker’s work, the story here is based on a real tragedy: Slavery in the antebellum South. The grainy black-and-white film is divided into eight acts that chart the progress of a male slave

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