Darkytown Rebellion Installation by Kara Walker
This installation features the artist’s signature life-size silhouette figures depicting the antebellum South. Stereotypes abound. Two malnourished boys walk to their master. Three figures partake in ambiguous erotic perversity, including a man whose leg has been cut off. One woman takes care of multiple newborns, her breast for nursing prominently displayed to draw attention to her “purpose” in life. What’s formally different about this piece from her other works is the use of overhead projectors—the type commonly used in schools. These colored projections act as abstract landscape elements to complement the figures in the scene. The projectors also serve to show viewers the structure of the piece at the same time they view and experience it. Walker forces viewers to be in the same picture plane as the shadows projected, thus creating an interactive picture where the viewer is implicated.