Artist Kara Walker – ‘I’m an Unreliable Narrator’ | Fons Americanus | Tate

Artist Kara Walker – ‘I’m an Unreliable Narrator’ | Fons Americanus | Tate


The well overfloweth its banks and
changes course away away from this island fort towards a new world taking
with her gods and dreams and men and women. We cross the Atlantic in many
ways we swim or we sink. This is a piece about oceans and seas traversed fatally The Fons Americanus is an allegory of
the Black Atlantic and really all global waters which disastrously connect Africa
to America, Europe and economic prosperity My name is Kara Walker. I’m an artist. I’m
really interested in making work that explores the power struggles and history
and mythologies that inform the way we perceive ourselves and the way we perceive others particularly around race or gender. I’m
interested in grand themes and small human frailties, the macro and the micro. Well I first saw the Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace on a lark I mean on
on the way to the airport I saw the monument
I took some quick snapshots moving snapshots out of the window of the taxi
and then forgot about it promptly as one does with
monuments and memorials I think that there’s this very peculiar quality that
they have of being completely invisible the larger they are in fact the more
they sink into the background. I’m not an actual historian I’m an unreliable
narrator. I sort of let characters or caricatures sort of emerge sometimes
they are culled straight from pop culture looking at the types of
depictions of blackness or of slavery as they have emerged you know specifically
in the 19th century moving through the 20th century and changed somewhat
over time. It’s this kernel of experience that can never quite be told in art and
I’m always fascinated by these paradoxes and problems
Although slavery didn’t exist on these shores England was a beneficiary of the
slave trade and its products and so you have this kind of institution that spans
many hundreds of years and everybody is implicated in it
I wondered how to return the gift of having come to be through the mechanics
of finance, exploitation, murder, rape, death, ecological destruction, co-optation,
coercion, love, seafaring feats, bravery, slavery, loss, injustice, excess, cruelty,
tenacity, submission and progress conceived in the U.S. to live in this
time and place with this opportunity this ability. So I was working in a
different way than I normally work although there’s some common
threads. I do tend to do a bit of writing beforehand just to figure out
where my head is. It took a while before I had a concept but the concept when it
came came sort of flooding, very literally flooding out of me so that it
got very large and fluid and funny so I made these small clay models every day
marveling at the characters and caricatures who emerged. From there
we scanned the fingers and forms and worked with digital imaging, inserting them into
a digital mock-up of the Turbine Hall space and changing and arranging things
as needed It’s very strange really to go from like
the thumbprint to the digitised version to sort of back to this machine and
then back to our hands again I think that with this piece I really wanted to
make sure that my hand was still present in it and it wasn’t something that was
just you know easily machined and shipped off and moved into the Turbine
Hall The Turbine Hall Commission functions as a one-person version of the nineteenth-century World’s Exposition.
The World’s Fair was a public entertainment exploiting the wealth and
bounty of rich nations often literally carried on the backs of its colonised
subjects. As a one-woman World’s Fair I have created a space for reflection, joy
even, amid the miasma of conflicts racial, economic and cultural which still lodge
themselves in our collective gullet thanks to the rise of white nationalism,
xenophobia, fundamentalist violence and a poisonous populism which has
everyone mouthing off thoughtlessly at once

10 thoughts on “Artist Kara Walker – ‘I’m an Unreliable Narrator’ | Fons Americanus | Tate”

  1. Nice Job, I compleatly enjoyed it!, See this New Album 'Monish Jasbird – Death Blow', channel link www.youtube.com/channel/UCv_x5rlxirO-WKjLIyk6okQ?sub_confirmation=1 , doo check 🙂

  2. A deeply moving statue, and it would have been nice to hear the artist but her words were often obscured by very annoying music. Shame! But it happens so often that I begin to suspect…… Anyway, a trip to London seems necessary.

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