Freedom, a FableArtist(s)Kara WalkerArtist NationalityAmerican (North American)Object Creation Date1997Medium & SupportpaperDimensions
9 5/16 in x 8 3/8 in (23.6 cm x 21.3 cm)Credit LineGift of The Peter Norton Family FoundationSubject matter
Kara Walker is best known for her controversial large-scale black silhouette cut-outs which are, in this book, miniaturized. Her use of silhouettes is significant and ironic as she juxtaposes traditional Victorian silhouettes with depictions of violence, hyper-sexuality, and racism. Walker's work deals directly with African American history in the Antebelleum South, contributes to current dialogues on the representation of Black identities, and speaks to the way that the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and sexuality operates in the context of America. "Freedom, a Fable" " tells the story of a female slave whose life after emancipation veers far from her dreams of meritocracy, revealing that Freedom, a Fable is not just the title of the work but is also the lesson to be learned" (National Gallery of Art).
Unlike generations of Black artist's before her, Walker is operating as a "post-black" artist which affords her the opportunity to address racism and sexism in perhaps an irreverent way. Walker's work is a parody of historic one-dimensional racist narratives about primitive Africa, Black beasts, and Black women's sexual prowess, in what some consider a humorous way. She frequently (re)uses stereotypical forms of Black bodies, including the mammy archetype and pickaninny caricatures. Her graphic imagery is often hyper-sexual, violent, and exaggerated, thereby highlighting race, gender, and class power dynamics. This pop-up book was created the same year that Kara Walker became one of the youngest people to receive the MacArthur genius grant.Physical Description
This pop-up book has laser-cut black silhouettes on white paper. Text contrasts with background; white text on black pages, black text on white pages. There is a ship embossed on the cover of the book.Primary Object Classification Bound Work Primary Object Typeartist's bookCollection AreaModern and ContemporaryRights
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