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Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching

Kara Walker

Contemporary Art

Kara Walker distinguished herself in the mid-1990s through her panoramic murals composed of cut-paper silhouettes. She subverts the innocent intentions of this nineteenth-century medium, initially used for chaste portraits of socially prominent individuals, to create intense explorations of relationships based on power. Here, working in cut steel, she includes the stereotypical Civil War imagery of the South—a stately plantation mansion, small huts, weeping willows, shackled slaves, Confederate soldiers, and Southern belles—that characterizes her signature wall drawings and more recent films. As she explores stereotypes, Walker offers no resolution, and her evenhanded presentation includes neither villains nor heroes. This “play set” even seems to suggest that one could reorganize the cast of characters and their settings, creating new narratives that revolve around issues of oppression and power, race and gender, and 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
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 2008.53.1a-v
EDITION 16/20
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by John and Barbara Vogelstein and Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Kara Walker; Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
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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. © Kara Walker; Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
IMAGE detail, 2008.53.1a-v_detail4_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
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RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (89%)
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