In a self-written press release announcing her latest show, contemporary artist and AYO favorite Kara Walker is fed up with artist statements, obviously.
“I know what you expect from me and I have complied up to a point,” she writes, in a note about upcoing exhibit at New York’s Sikkema Jenkins & Co gallery next month. “But frankly I am tired, tired of standing up, being counted, tired of ‘having a voice’ or worse ‘being a role model…Tired, true, of being a featured member of my racial group and/or my gender niche.” She goes on:
It’s too much, and I write this knowing full well that my right, my capacity to live in this Godforsaken country as a (proudly) raced and (urgently) gendered person is under threat by random groups of white (male) supremacist goons who flaunt a kind of patched together notion of race purity with flags and torches and impressive displays of perpetrator-as-victim sociopathy. I roll my eyes, fold my arms and wait. How many ways can a person say racism is the real bread and butter of our American mythology, and in how many ways will the racists among our countrymen act out their Turner Diaries race war fantasy combination Nazi Germany and Antebellum South – states which, incidentally, lost the wars they started, and always will, precisely because there is no way those white racisms can survive the earth without the rest of us types upholding humanity’s best, keeping the motor running on civilization, being good, and preserving nature and all the stuff worth working and living for?
Sikkema Jenkins & Co, in similarly unconventional form, boasts the new show entitled—get this—”The most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season!” Yes, that’s the exhibit’s real title. The gallery writes:
Collectors of Fine Art will Flock to see the latest Kara Walker offerings, and what is she offering but the Finest Selection of artworks by an African-American Living Woman Artist this side of the Mississippi. Modest collectors will find her prices reasonable, those of a heartier disposition will recognize Bargains! Scholars will study and debate the Historical Value and Intellectual Merits of Miss Walker’s Diversionary Tactics. Art Historians will wonder whether the work represents a Departure or a Continuum. Students of Color will eye her work suspiciously and exercise their free right to Culturally Annihilate her on social media. Parents will cover the eyes of innocent children. School Teachers will reexamine their art history curricula. Prestigious Academic Societies will withdraw their support, former husbands and former lovers will recoil in abject terror. Critics will shake their heads in bemused silence. Gallery Directors will wring their hands at the sight of throngs of the gallery-curious flooding the pavement outside. The Final President of the United States will visibly wince. Empires will fall, although which ones, only time will tell.
Reactions from the art world have been swift and unequivocally supportive of Walker, who in recent years, has gained popularity with her artistic, and oft-controversial takes on issues of slavery, race, gender and violence. Most known for her tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes, Walker made waves in 2014, when she showcased “A Subtlety” (also known as Marvelous Sugar Baby) a massive, sugar-coated sphinx at Brooklyn’s now-demolished Domino Sugar Factory.
Previous work aside, Walker’s anti-artist statement artist statement is reason enough to find yourself in New York this fall.