April 02, 2007
LA artist Kara Walker's work, named Camptown Ladies, is another controversial piece in the Rubell Collection. It is made up of silhouettes cut out of black paper and pasted on the wall. It is one of the best-known examples of her body of work that explore stereotypes about blacks and women with narratives from the old south and the time of slavery. The above piece is only a partial view of the installation that covers an entire wall. It finds inspiration in an old folk song from the mid-19th century, about workers racing horses for entertainment in make-shift towns during railroad construction. In Walker's work though, rather than racing a horse, the jockey is riding a black woman while dangling a carrot in front of her face. At the end of the piece (not pictured), the carrot ends up in the woman's derriere. Click on the image to see detail.
The use of black material on white punctuates her racial agenda. It's a thought-provoking piece that engages you with flowing imagery that looks simple but makes reference to very complex cultural issues.