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In this installation, characters cut from black paper perform mysterious actions before the projected backdrop of a great steamboat. A boy bears a miniature battleship on his head, a woman waves a handkerchief while a seemingly monstrous baby teeters on her bustle, a shoe becomes a hoof-like appendage, a figure raises a portrait bust. In smaller cutout vignettes, a woman points a gun at a man's back, and lovers embrace.
Kara Walker draws from familiar narratives of the past to offer a challenging picture of history. Placing dress, machinery, and gestures associated with the antebellum South in unexpected arrangements, Walker's work exploits the ambiguity of race-relations in United States history. The viewer's shadow enters this tableau as a participant or visible witness. The projected background places the silhouettes in perspective. Similarly, Walker's work suggests that perspectives on history are marked by projections of one's self upon views of the past.
East Cowes Castle, The Seat Of J. Nash, Esq., The Regatta Beating To Windward
Joseph M. Turner (British, 1775-1851)