Room One

Upon entering the exhibition I was welcomed to a white lobby with white walls, there was no art on show therefore I asked an exhibition guide for assistance. Once receiving guidance on how to navigate through the exhibition I entered the first room. I was welcomed into a room filled with Walkers astonishing paper cut-outs filling the massive room, the cut outs almost looked as though they were for children as you don’t tend to see many artists using silhouettes to create their pieces. This monochrome room had three very large walls with Walkers work spread across them, the forth wall had a graphite drawing from Walker, a taster of what’s to come in room two perhaps. When making a left turn in the room I witnessed a black silhouette on a wall. The figure stood alone on the wall and by the profile of the cut-out it was almost instantly clear that it was a black male, holding a bottle of liquor (figure 1) the artwork stands in front of me shows the stereotypical young black American men. Walkers use of fine detail helped me as an audience member to see that this figure was a black male, from the way the hair on the figure stood to the way she had cut around the figures bottom half, the shape of the figures rear end and the sag of the jeans. The figures physique was one which you would relates to a person of black origin, again a stereotype of an Afro-American person.

The fine details that Walker has paid to her cut outs allowed me to distinguish the difference between her white and black characters which was made prominent on wall two which to me appeared to be the feature wall as it had the most cut outs and was considerably larger that the other walls. Wall two shows the audience a deeper a crueller side of slavery as well as the gender tension. Walker had a cluster of cut outs of white figures dictating to black figures and that was clear to me after taking a brief look at the wall, unlike the first wall this wall was black and Walker had used white silhouettes which I feel symbolised the idea of white people taking control as there was not any white figures on wall one. One scenario in the cut outs that caught my eye was a black figure laying on the floor with a golf pin and ball in his mouth as the white male figure is in the process of teeing off as well as this there is a white female figure holding down the black male to prevent him from moving. This whole image creates the idea of fear for me the fact that the black figure is being held down portrays the idea of not knowing what he may do when he is let go of and left to his free will. Another disturbing scene on this wall of many disturbing and grotesques scenes was one that appeared to be a young white child using horses reins to control a black figure, from a far you may even think that the black was some form of animal but the closer you look the more crude the scene becomes to the eye. This shows the was white children in slavery were taught how to treat the slaves even though they may not have wanted to, this related to this day and age because in a city like London its very hard to live in an area which is majority white people and so for a young child to have racist feelings towards a person of colour you already have the feeling that it may be what they have been taught inside their homes.

On wall three of this room I was invited to see a sample of Walkers new work ‘ Auntie Walker’s Wall Sampler for Savages,’ (figure 2) 2013, this wall shows a more sexual side of the times of slavery, many of the cut outs show slaves and their masters performing sexual favours and as well as this Walker uses guns and violence to portray this, one of the silhouettes shows a slave performing a sexual favour to their slave owner, the imagery of it was very disturbing as it appeared that the salve was a male. The dramatic posture of the owner conveys enjoymentbutatthesametimeshowsasenseof embarrassmentthewaytheowneris stepping back as though he does not want this to happen but yet carries on with it does create a skin crawling feeling within the viewer as you want to look at the piece of work but you do not at the same time.

This wall also has side profile portraits of slaves and from looking at the facial features such as larger lips and the way Walker has cut out the hair you can tell the [person she is personifying is of colour. In a teachers guide of the exhibition provided by the Camden Arts Centre (2013) it says ‘The popularity of the silhouette captured beliefs at the time that intelligence and class could be characterised by one’s physical profile.’ and I think Walker has use her side profiles to show her audience that these cut outs are black but to also show what the slave owners have kept to show that they have once had certain slaves. It one of the cut outs you can see that there is a white female kissing and holding the head of one of the slaves that may have had this done to them, it almost feels and looks like she is doing it out of spite as if she is proud of what has happened to this slave.

Figure 1





Figure 2



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