map
the broad

African't

Kara Walker
1996
cut paper on wall
144 x 792 in. (365.76 x 2011.68 cm)

BARBARA KRUGER

I’ll start with Kara Walker…Kara Walker's “African’t”.

 

NARRATOR

That’s artist Barbara Kruger.

 

BARBARA KRUGER

I think that Walker in this work and in many of her others is determined to show the unseen and to speak the unspoken and to do so with a brilliant and astute understanding of how dominance subjugates us and how wit and brutal humor can save us.

 

KARA WALKER

I have a cousin who always gets very disturbed when I put pants on rabbits.

 

NARRATOR

Artist Kara Walker.

 

KARA WALKER

He’s just like, “Don’t do it,”

 

NARRATOR

Walker’s referring to the character on the far left.

 

KARA WALKER

He pops up in my work from time to time, Brer Rabbit from the Uncle Remus tales as told by Joel Chandler Harris.

 

NARRATOR

Other southern archetypes are here, too, and involved in terrible and terrifying situations. The large scale of the work and graphic quality of the silhouetted forms enhances the depravity of the scene.

 

[MUSIC: Al Jolson – Al Jolson Minstrel]

 

KARA WALKER

There’s so much physically happening with each one of these characters, and a lot of it is kind of heinous. But I won’t tell you what it’s about.

 

NARRATOR

What about the title: African't?

 

KARA WALKER

A Ghanaian woman who was braiding my hair, and her little boy was walking around, and he kept saying with a kind of accented English, “I am African’t. I am African’t.” And she was like, “AfriCAN.” She kept correcting him. “AfriCAN. You’re AfriCAN.” And I was like, “Yeah, you are African. I am African’t.”