Kara Walker (b. 1969)
Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi's Blue Tale (2011)
Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale is a shadow puppet narrative, which follows the travails of the heroine, Miss Pipi, intercut with shadow puppet “abstracts” of a surreal and violent nature. The subtext of the video is the mythology surrounding white Southern womanhood, historically cited time and time again as an entity to be protected from sexuality, in particular from the presumed hyper-sexuality of black men. Although fiction, this was the excuse for the murder of countless black men and boys in Jim Crow America. Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale is meant to be as deeply contradictory a visual tale as the Blues is in music. Delta Blues often merges broad comedy with despair, sensuality with loss and do-it-yourself urgency with structured improvisation.
The video Levee is a quiet meditation on the landscape set at sunrise in Friars Point, Mississippi. This long clip functions as a kind of curtain or backlit screen within which anything can happen--but nothing does. The straight line that bisects the image is the top edge of a section of levee, shot from below, at the edge of the Mississippi River. It is a black space, a barrier and engineering feat that receives little attention until failures occur such as the 1927 levee break at Greenville, MS or more recently those caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Lastly, Bad Blues is a short video loop, featuring the artist in a comic sketch about black female agency and having “The Blues.” Walker’s objective as a ‘storyteller’ is to examine the destructive affects of mythmaking and of art.