The book collects the multi-faceted project that Kara Walker developed in Turin and documents the different parts of it: the solo exhibition “Kara Walker.
“A Negress of Noteworthy Talent” at the Fondazione Merz (25 March – 3 July 2011), a workshop for students from the Art Academy and University of Turin, an International conference on the political and psychological element of race stereotyper and a series of films screened at the Cinema Massimo. Journalist and writer Rebecca Walker was also present; she took part in the workshop and introduced Kara’s work at the conference. The entire project focuses on the mythical memory that takes shape within her work: a memory undergoing a constant metamorphosis, where personal facts connect to a collective experience that can be shared by all. A historical event such as the birth of the African American community in the United States, with the related centuries of slavery and difficult social integration, becomes the subject matter of Kara Walker’s visual narratives made of shadows and contours. Her silhouetted figures inhabit a visionary and metaphoric land; they move in between night and day, in a constant play between darkness and light. She stages fiercely realistic stories together with sinisterly humorous allegories, which she presents as installations, videos, stage settings, silhouette puppets, moving shadows, room-size tableaux, and collages on various supports, from walls to canvas. But also drawings, tempera, miniatures and large-scale narratives that hover in a particular dimension where the grotesque almost merges into drama. Kara Walker uses art as a detonator to make the removed emerge, as a method to gain access to profound, unconscious cultural layers which belong to us often without our being aware of it, from which arise prejudices, stereotypes, ideas not developed critically. For example, racism, sexism, the distribution of power, cultural tradition. Her work is a way of presenting the problems, to reason, but not to resolve or proposed definitive judgements.