Fondazione Merz

Kara Walker. A negress of noteworthy talent

A project on memory, identity, myth and stereotype


March 25 – July 3, 2011


Curated by Olga Gambari


Kara Walker  is going to tackle the space of the Fondazione Merz by setting her cut papers in free progressions on the exhibition walls, together with a video-installation, various drawings, as well as collages and egg tempera paintings.

The project focuses on the mythical memory that takes shape within her work: a memory undergoing a constant metamorphosis, where personal facts connect to a collective experience that can be shared by all.

A historical event such as the birth of the African American community in the United States, with the related centuries of slavery and difficult social integration, becomes the subject matter of Kara Walker’s visual narratives made of shadows and contours. Her silhouetted figures inhabit a visionary and metaphoric land; they move in between night and day, in a constant play between darkness and light. She stages fiercely realistic stories together with sinisterly humorous allegories, which she presents as installations, videos, stage settings, silhouette puppets, moving shadows, room-size tableaux, and collages on various supports, from walls to canvas. But also drawings, tempera, miniatures and large-scale narratives that hover in a particular dimension where the grotesque almost merges into drama.

The project is developed in four different moments. Revolving around the exhibition of the artist’s works at the Fondazione Merz there are other significant events: the National Museum of Cinema (Cinema Massimo, March 27) screens a series of films that strongly connect to and have inspired Kara Walker’s work, while Luca Morena has curated an International conference on the political and psychological element of race stereotypes (March 25 and 26) and a workshop (March 21 and 22) for students from the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Torino. Journalist and writer Rebecca Walker is also present; she takes part in the workshop at the Circolo dei Lettori.