Walker Art Center

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Publications Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

We wanted the catalogue to represent a kind of composite portrait of the artist Kara Walker’s own version of a “slave narrative.” We also strove to avoid what has become a cliché in presenting the her work—black silhouettes against a white background. To achieve this, we set the tone by including the full text of a piece by the artist entitled Letter from a Black Girl. The subtitle of the exhibition is lifted from a passage in this text-based work, so we placed it on the half-title page and worked backwards to the cover, using the complete text in the proper order. The approximate size, shape, and materiality of the book (but not the typography or layout) reference a compendium of slave narratives from the mid-1940s entitled Lay My Burden Down. We drew attention to Walker’s use of language—the artist’s voice—by amplifying the titles of artworks, which use a very ornate Antebellum-era prose; including a special insert culled from a notebook by the artist of newspaper and magazine clippings and other found and collaged material; reproducing a series of index cards typed by the artist that address the stereotyping of black men and women; and adding a lexicon of the iconography used by the artist.

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love