168 x 168 x 240 in. (installation)
Gift of the Contemporary Art Society
Artist; (Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York, New York): purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Indianapolis, Indiana in 2002.
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.
Metadata about the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s collection comes from Newfields’ records and research. In some cases, information may be incomplete and research is ongoing. Newfields’ goal is to have as up-to-date metadata as possible, therefore, this information is subject to change. Newfields collections’ metadata is available under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) waiver, which allows for re-use without legal restrictions.
Artworks that appear in the image file(s) above may be in copyright or have other legal and/or cultural restrictions to their use. For clarity, Newfields does not claim copyright to the image files created by Newfields of artworks in the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s collection. Newfields makes every effort to ascertain the copyright status of artworks in the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s collection. Please refer to the RightsStatements.org statement above for information about the current copyright status of the artwork. Additionally, some artworks may include Local Context’s Notices or Labels that attribute cultural authority of the artwork’s heritage and data.
Additional information about Newfields’ reproduction guidelines can be found in the Licensing Resources.