Art

15 Questions About Kara Walker’s Latest Exhibition

Who is made whole by Walker’s decontextualized images of violence correlated with race, gender, sex, and with chattel slavery and the social practices devolving from that historical circumstance?

Installation view: Kara Walker: Sikkema Jenkins and Co. is Compelled to present the most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season! at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, (all photos by Jason Wyche, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York)
  1. Who is enlarged or educated by Kara Walker’s latest exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins gallery?
  2. Who is made whole by the decontextualized images of violence correlated with race, gender, sex, and with chattel slavery and the social practices devolving from that historical circumstance?
  3. How does this impel a greater understanding of the relationship between these disparate aspects caught in synchronous orbit around the black body?
  4. What do we do with the white patriarchal phallus when it is shown to be an agent of degradation for anyone who is the other?
  5. What if we know this already?
  6. What has happened in the more than 20 years of Walker’s practice to make this new exhibition any more relevant than the ones previous?
  7. Why do we wake to violence and then willingly sleep with it nestled under our pillows?
  8. Why do we nurse our anger and cultivate it like a tender vine? Who is this work for?
  9. What could Walker hope to teach her audience: pain, surprise? Who is enlivened by this work?
  10. Who is made to grieve?
  11. Who is excited to celebrate it?
  12. What will happen when we find that the rope we tug and pull tight to heave up the specters of our racist past is also looped around our imaginative constructs of a (different) future, so they too end up choked, then spitting and lifeless?
  13. Why is a cudgel thought to be the best tool for historical investigation?
  14. What happens when Walker exhausts the gag reflex of our collective conscience and it no longer responds?
  15. After we leave this show, what benefits will we imagine accrue to us being alive right now?
Installation view: Kara Walker: Sikkema Jenkins and Co. is Compelled to present the most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season! at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Regardless of the author’s deep reservations, Kara Walker: Sikkema Jenkins and Co. is Compelled to present the most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season! continues at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. (530 West 22nd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through October 14.  

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