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Home > Arts & Events > Art > Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

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

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Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St., New York, NY 10014 40.739633 -74.008876
nr. Washington St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
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  • Type of Show:

    Drawing/Illustration, Multimedia/Installation, Museum Exhibits, Postwar/Contemporary

Photo by courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.


$15, $10 students and seniors, free for members and children under 12. Pay-what-you-wish admission on Fri, 6pm-9pm


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L at Eighth Ave.; 1, 2, 3 at 14th St.; A, C, E at 14th St.

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In 1992, a year before starting her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, Kara Walker, then 22—and only five years from winning a MacArthur “genius” award—had an epiphany while looking at a nineteenth-century silhouette of a young black girl in profile. She later recalled that it “kind of saved me.” Two years later, I had an epiphany in an MFA student’s studio in the same school, having just seen something—either a cutout silhouette or a drawing in what looked like chocolate—of a plantation worker. “What is that?” I asked. The young woman said, “It’s by my classmate Kara Walker.” I felt like a thunderbolt had hit the back of my head. This was an image of mad America. I was sickened, thrilled, and terrified. There’s a good chance you’ll have some of those feelings, as well as a guttural jolt of what James Joyce called the nightmare of history, in Kara Walker’s bitterly beautiful, psychically naked, carnal charnel house of a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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