Victoria Miro presents KARA WALKER - Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First
FORCES IN NATURE
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KARA WALKER - Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First
1 October - 7 November 2015
Photo: Ari Marcopoulos
Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First
Private View 6 - 8pm, Wednesday 30 September
Exhibition runs 1 October - 7 November 2015
Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW
Victoria Miro is delighted to present the first of two exhibitions at the gallery this autumn by the celebrated American artist Kara Walker.
Often provocative and humorous, Kara Walker's work explores the tensions and power plays of racial and gender relations. Walker's work engages with historical narratives and the ways in which these stories have been suppressed, distorted and falsified. This exhibition extends her exploration of the brutalising histories of colonialism and slavery, and the political and psychological consequences that accompanies identity formation in contexts of oppression and violence.
Drawing from art historical and literary sources, Walker creates and deconstructs scenarios that expose biases and prejudices, exploring the power struggles underlying personal and political relationships. Her work proposes alternative mythologies, and new ways of engaging with traumatic historical material. Walker uses historical decorative styles including the silhouette to create complex and sophisticated narratives, emphasising and undermining the ways in which images and narratives can be subject to stereotyping.
For her first exhibition with Victoria Miro, Walker is producing a new body of work made with the gallery's unique spaces in mind. In Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First Walker has drawn inspiration from the southern American city where she spent her teenage years. The centrepiece of the exhibition will be a cut paper installation and large scale photographic wallpaper piece, the latter made in collaboration with photographer and filmmaker Ari Marcopoulos. These works reference Stone Mountain, a park on the outskirts of Atlanta featuring the world's largest exposed granite monolith, the surface of which features a partially completed bas-relief carving of Confederate generals on horseback.
The mountain and the park that bears its name have had a chequered history. In 1915 Stone Mountain was declared the spiritual home of the Ku Klux Klan; more recently it has become a theme park with a wild west train ride and popular laser shows. Walker's work draws on the layered histories and associations of the site.
The Atlanta works will be complemented by Four Idioms on Negro Art, which addresses forms of representation that have a stereotypical association with 'low' art: Folk Art, Graffiti and Primitivism. Each monumental work shows the artist taking on the attributes of a specific visual language, simultaneously paying homage to and satirising the motifs and style of the given forms.
In a sketch outlining her conception of this body of work, Walker sets up the Idioms in contradiction to Four Desires: Conceptual Art Practice, Fine Art, Technical Mastery and Mind Boggling Scale, and suggests a parodic dichotomy between the form and intention of art based on gender, class, education and skill.
A publication accompanies the exhibition featuring a conversation between Kara Walker and Ari Marcopoulos and a text by James Hannaham.
In November, Victoria Miro Mayfair will present a selection of preparatory drawings, sketches and models related to the production of Vincenzo Bellini's two-act opera Norma that Kara Walker directed and art directed for Teatro La Fenice. This production, staged for six performances between May and June 2015, was a special project commissioned by Okwui Enwezor to coincide with the 56th Venice Biennale.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with texts by the artist and by Hilton Als.
FORCES IN NATURE
Curated by Hilton Als
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Verne Dawson, Peter Doig, NS Harsha, Alice Neel, Chris Ofili, Celia Paul, Tal R, Sarah Sze, Kara Walker and Francesca Woodman
Exhibition 13 October - 14 November 2015
Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW
Victoria Miro is delighted to present Forces in Nature, curated by the celebrated US critic and author Hilton Als. The exhibition explores the idea of man in nature and includes works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Verne Dawson, Peter Doig, NS Harsha, Alice Neel, Chris Ofili, Celia Paul, Tal R, Sarah Sze, Kara Walker, and Francesca Woodman.
In his introduction to the catalogue, Als writes about the exhibition's premise: 'In her great poem about the sea, A Grave (1916-18), the American poet Marianne Moore wrote: "It is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing/but you cannot stand in the middle of this." For centuries creators ranging from Casper David Friedrich to contemporary masters like the artists in this show have sought to represent man's interesting, vexed, and insoluble relationship to the natural world. Forces in Nature celebrates and questions the male form or its absence in paintings, photographs, drawings, film and installation. Does nature mean more to us when seen against the background of the human form? Or do we understand a landscape or seascape more acutely when the form is absent? Do women artists want to "stand in the middle of a thing" as defiantly as male artists? And how much of our understanding of nature is, by now, filtered through the experience of the modern world, with its focus on representation or documentation as opposed to directly "felt" experience? Forces in Nature is not only a celebration of these questions but an examination of them.'
Forces in Nature, an illustrated catalogue with texts by Hilton Als, accompanies the exhibition.
About Hilton Als:
Als is an acclaimed writer who is the chief theatre critic for The New Yorker magazine and author of the books The Women and White Girls. His honours include a Guggenheim fellowship and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Desdemona for Celia by Hilton, a collaboration between Hilton Als and Celia Paul, is currently showing at Gallery MET at The Metropolitan Opera in New York until 2 January 2016. The exhibition is presented on the occasion of the Met's season-opening new production of Verdi's Otello. Christopher Knowles: In a Word, co-curated by Hilton Als, is currently on view at The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, until 27 December.
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