18 December – 26 January 2019
Kara Walker

The Island Club is pleased to present Kara Walker’s video Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale.

Since the 1990s Kara Walker has developed a multifaceted body of work comprising drawings, paintings, coloured light projections, shadow puppetry, sculpture, and writing. Using incisive and unsettling imagery, Walker confronts and challenges the dominant traditions in the representation of slavery in America. By scrutinising the vicious propinquities among racial discrimination, gender inequality, violence, and subjugation, her work brings forth the cracks within current representations of Blackness and the state of racial consciousness in the United States and beyond.

Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, a seventeen-minute shadow puppet video created in 2011, is set in the plantation fields of the Antebellum South and follows ‘Southern belle’ Miss Pipi and her intimate encounters with a black slave which come to a violent end after they are uncovered by a young white boy. The video revisits the historical context of Jim Crow laws, during which countless murders of black men took place on the grounds of “the mythology surrounding white Southern womanhood, historically cited time and time again as an entity to be protected from sexuality, in particular from the presumed hyper-sexuality of black men.” [1]

Shifting from Delta Blues to seventies groove and to ambient noise, the soundtrack of the video adds to a complex narrative structure lingering between fantasy and nightmare, desire and death, transgression and despair. As Kris Cohen writes, “what the film offers is not answers or tactics, and not even recognizable questions, but affects induced by a kind of unflinching decision not to sanitize a single thing, neither in her own racial-historical consciousness, nor in what she imagines to be the world’s.” [2]

[1] Kara Walker, Dust Jackets for the Niggerati- and Supporting Dissertations, Drawings submitted
ruefully by Dr. Kara E. Walker
. Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York. 21 April – 4 June 2011.

[2] Kris Cohen, “Endurance: Kara Walker, Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale”, Kara Walker More & Less. Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, Oregon, USA. 4 September – 18 November 2012.

Born in Stockton, California in 1969, Kara Walker was raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of thirteen. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art (BFA, 1991) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1994). Walker’s major survey exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, was organised by The Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis (2007) before travelling to ARC/ Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (2007); The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007); The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008) and the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth (2008).  She is the recipient of many awards, notably the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists, Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. In 2012, Walker became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2015, she was named the Tepper Chair in Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Selected solo exhibitions include: Kara Walker, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, Germany (2018); Kara Walker: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC (2017); Kara Walker: Figa, DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece (2017); Kara Walker: Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First, Victoria Miro, London, UK (2015); A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, Domino Sugar Refinery Plant, Brooklyn, organised by Creative Time, New York (2014); Camden Arts Centre, London (2013); Art Institute of Chicago (2013); Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2011); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2006). Selected group exhibitions include: America Is Hard to See, Whitney Museum, New York (2015); Remembering is Not Enough, MAXXI, Rome (2013); 11th Havana Biennial (2012); Venice Biennale (2007) and the Whitney Biennial (1997).

Courtesy of the artist, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., and Sprüth Magers.

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