~KARA WALKER sings the blues

or: angry young woman Black & White. and blues. finds her inner heart & stills down that vicious hatred.
a long time acomin’ . . .

KARA WALKER – ‘Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale’
APRIL 21 – June 4, 2011

KARA WALKER, Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, (video still detail), 2011.
single channel video. dimensions variable. edition of 3.

KARA WALKER, Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, (video still detail), 2011.

KARA WALKER, Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, (video still detail), 2011

KARA WALKER, at the show’s opening, Thurs April 21, 2011

usually when you walk into a KARA WALKER show – it is all cut paper on paper collage. or deep powerful drawing. very strident, very serious. very soulful and sorrowful and mean and angry. cutting. brutally witty. with a dry, deep down in-your-face America roaring back at ya, with over-the-top black face satire. explicit, raunchy. sharp elbow jabs – in the ribs of the county’s consciousness. a visceral one-two punch at America’s meanest streak.
no words necessary . . .

this show – was a whole other sensory experience – a revelation. as different as a sheet of black construction paper is from the digital dance of video projection . . . from dry to radiant. from static to fluid and flittering.

an all-film, all moving-image, paper puppet show. the thin black paper cut-out profiles of the past – animated by human hands using sticks & strings – riffs off of Indonesian shadow puppet theater. with animated backgrounds as liquid as moving – water . . . and as dramatic as full-blown sunsets . . . absolutely enchanting. unspeakable gorgeous. profoundly expressive. swift. violent. but not as hateful as that simple piece of cutting-edge cut paper can be in Ms. Walker’s skillful hands. is illuminating the word. more illuminating than accusing ?
the light of digital projection, softly, sensually exploding – like a small shower of fireworks.
a patchwork quilt in motion. a spin of images.
how to express it . . . a hard message – that got lifted by the song of film ?

the narrative still told how fucked-over the blacks were . . . but somehow the tragedy of the tale became more hauntingly like an old melody of sorrow – rather than a kick to the stomach. when you aren’t looking.

you still thought about things. don’t get me wrong.but you marveled too, you moved to the sweep of the drama, unfolding before you. no words. . you know: the magic – of storytelling. one of our oldest, living traditions – for a reason: can be spellbinding. and definite a show I want to wander into again, and again. and just let it wash right over me.

upstairs, in a small screening room, towards the front of the gallery as it faces the street – don’t miss it !!!
is a different kind of film experience . . . a brief video loop of Ms. Walker – unmasked !!
how strange and wonderous to be allowed to see this usually very up-tight, formal and academic presence revealing her inner wild child – half undressed and stripped down in more ways than one. , singing the blues . . she radiates joy and enchantment, almost like a small child on running with delight with a kite on a cliff. no hatred here. no mean streak name calling. no scores to settle. in-your-face self-portrait – finding the solace of soul – in the blues.

KARA WALKER . . . . with her on the right: ELLIE BRONSON.

KARA WALKER . . . as cute, and as smart as a (black) pearl button – think she finally really found herself . . .
her inner radiant child. grabbed that inner song, let down her hair. caught that that deep-set vibe that could carry her past the aggregate hurt and passed-down resentment. the scars of decades of ill-mistreatment.
in a nutshell: the story of the American blacks – thru the blues.

and so all the more lucky we are – that she shared that little gem of a self portrait video clip with us, and pretty amazing too that she did – because she tends to be a very guarded person in public.

we might go thru the looking glass, narratively speaking, to find ourselves – but the blacks went thru blues. and think about it: does America not rock, now or what ? this country is just one big walking sound track. it’s one of the best things about this country . . . it’s music culture.
music: from the fast fiddles of the Appalachians to the wide open guitar wails of the delta. the great American melting pot jump-start – to a better place.