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Kara Walker, Levee, 2011, still from a color video, 1 minute 50 seconds.

Kara Walker

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Kara Walker, Levee, 2011, still from a color video, 1 minute 50 seconds.

There are things one expects in a Kara Walker show: rape, lynching, dismemberment. Trees against stark sky, pert breasts, petticoats, high cravats. Women black or white with snaky tresses, field hands with huge erections, hatchet-faced overseers, little kids engaged in unspeakable acts. All the grotesquerie of Walker’s antebellum hells remained on hand in a recent pair of concurrent exhibitions. Yet there also appeared a slew of things one wouldn’t have thought to look for, such as an enraged intergalactic nude prophesying in go-go boots (Muckraking Prophet from the 21st C. Foretells Coming Doom, 2011). Or two portraits of Billie Holiday—one a cameo in a larger drawing called Nightlight (the Jazz Fan), and one a Wikipedia-inspired word-drawing—DRUG ABUSE, DRINKING, AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH ABUSIVE MEN CAUSED HER HEALTH TO DETERIORATE . . . (both 2010). Or a quiet

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