Silhouette of a nude male figure, with an inflated/distorted midsection, walking to the right and raising his boxing-gloved fist up behind him. In front of him, a smaller silhouette of a more naturally porportioned man faces left towards the larger figure and raises both fists, wearing boxing gloves, in front of him as if preparing to fight. The silhouettes are printed over a landscape scene that shows a fortified ridge in the near distance and are arranged in such a manner that the smaller silhouette appears to be standing on a tree stump.
Contemporary artist Kara Walker’s work reminds us of the inherent subjectivity of historical perspective. This work is one of 15 prints belonging to Walker’s powerful series in which she enlarges selected images from two volumes of Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (1866–68) and then “annotates” them by superimposing her signature silhouettes, thereby disrupting the original narrative. Walker inserts issues of racial stereotypes, slavery, gender, and the violence of oppression otherwise absent in these mid-19th century representations.
-Ellen Alvord, Weatherbie Curator of Education and Academic Programs, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)
diaspora; slavery; African American
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