Skip Navigation

Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching

Kara Walker

Contemporary Art

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

As she explores stereotypes, Walker offers no resolution, and her presentation includes neither villains nor heroes. This “play set” even seems to suggest that the cast of characters and their settings could be reorganized, 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
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here.

The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.

For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact copyright@brooklynmuseum.org.

If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email copyright@brooklynmuseum.org and we will assist if we can.
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
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (89%)
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.