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Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching

Kara Walker

Contemporary Art

In several mediums, Kara Walker subverts the original function of nineteenth-century cut-paper silhouettes, initially used for genteel portraits of socially prominent individuals. She reinterprets them to create intense explorations of relationships based on power. Here, working in cut steel, Walker gathers into a set the stereotypical Civil War-era imagery of the South—a stately plantation mansion, small huts, enslaved African Americans, Confederate soldiers, and Southern belles.

As she explores afresh the interplay between these familiar elements, Walker’s “play set” seems to suggest that the cast of characters and their settings could be rearranged—creating new narratives that revolve around the continuing issues of oppression and power, race and gender, with a disturbing sense of moral ambiguity.
MEDIUM Painted laser-cut steel
DATES 2006
DIMENSIONS 24 x 38 1/4 x 90 in. (61 x 97.2 x 228.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by John and Barbara Vogelstein and Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Kara Walker (American, born 1969). Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching, 2006. Painted laser-cut steel, 24 x 38 1/4 x 90 in. (61 x 97.2 x 228.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by John and Barbara Vogelstein and Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, 2008.53.1a-v. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008.53.1a-v_detail4_PS4.jpg)
EDITION Edition: 16/20
IMAGE detail, 2008.53.1a-v_detail4_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © Kara Walker; Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
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