'Heroes are not completely pure and villains are not purely evil. I’m interested in the continuity of conflict, the creation of racist narratives, or nationalist narratives, or whatever narratives people use to construct a group identity and to keep themselves whole.’
The first exhibition of African American artist Kara Walker to be held in Australia opens at the National Gallery of Australia this Saturday, 13 August 2022.
Project 2: Kara Walker draws upon two decades of practice by one of North America’s most influential contemporary artists. The exhibition explores the complex narratives of race, gender and sexuality that run through Walker’s signature black-and-white imagery.
Coming to fame in the mid-1990s, Walker is internationally recognised for her graphically striking and wryly humorous representations of the racist imagery, systems of power and harrowing stories that accompany colonisation as it emerged in the United States from the time of slavery.
On display for the first time in Kamberri/Canberra will be the Gallery’s two major new acquisitions — Testimony: Narrative of a Negress Burdened by Good Intentions, 2004, the artist’s first film, and a monumental mixed-media drawing, Your World is About to Change, 2019. These new acquisitions form the centrepiece of Kara Walker and are being shown alongside a selection of works curated by the artist exclusively for the National Gallery.
Sally Foster, National Gallery Senior Curator, Prints and Drawings says ‘Kara Walker challenges viewers to critically examine the creation of North America's belief in freedom and liberation, the perpetuation of racist and gender stereotypes in popular culture, and the global systems of oppression and exploitation brought about through slavery.’
Walker’s work shows us that through colonial enterprises we are all entwined in a vast and complex nexus that reaches from Europe and Britain to Africa and the United States, and eventually to Australia.
‘With a practice that deals with the legacy of transatlantic slavery and America’s ongoing issues around racial inequality, Walker brings another perspective to a global conversation that resonates deeply with communities here in Australia’ said Foster.
Project 2: Kara Walker is on display from 13 August 2022 to 4 February 2023.
Kara Walker is part of the Contemporary Project Series and is a Know My Name project. The Contemporary Project Series was established in 2021 to support the work of living artists and demonstrate the National Gallery’s commitment to the art of today.
This exhibition is part of the National Gallery of Australia’s 40th Anniversary celebrations.
Available via the Project 2: Kara Walker Media Kit
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