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Still from Fall from Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, 2011
An American art star will be the talk of the British gallery scene when London’s Camden Arts Centre stages the United Kingdom’s first solo exhibition of works by Kara Walker. Opening October 11, the show will introduce the artist’s gripping style and dark explorations of power to an entirely new audience.
Featuring the exquisitely rendered Victorian cut-paper silhouette tableaux that Walker is known for, the exhibit will unite familiar elements and bold new pieces around a theme of white supremacy. In addition to the silhouettes, one of which has been created specifically for Camden, the show will include a series of graphite-drawn book covers representing untold African-American stories and a video installation of her searing shadow play, Fall Frum Grace—Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale.
It is likely that the exhibit, which coincides with England’s Black History Month, will garner controversy; Walker’s previous work has been incredibly divisive even within the African American community. Show curator Sophie Williamson welcomes the conversation. “In the art world we too often show work that is preaching to the converted,” she explains. “Walker’s work doesn’t do this. It poses a lot of quite contentious arguments, even within a liberal, art-world context.”
The artist’s powerfully unflinching method exposes the underbelly of American history, but Williamson has no concern that it will be lost on British viewers. “Her experience is through the eyes of an American black woman, but racial stereotyping and the tensions this creates is something that is experienced by people all across the UK,” she says. “Otherness is different in different locations, but the way that her work approaches it will resonate with audiences wherever you go.” Through January 5; Arkwright Rd.; 44-20/7472-5500; camdenartscentre.org.