Kara Walker was born in
Through her work Walker presents a complex exploration of taboo issues of sexuality, desire, pleasure, violence and shame. Work like Allegory and scenes within her larger narrative murals have elements or images dealing with such taboo issues. Sexually explicit behavior and violence are presented with meticulous clear imagery; which has created controversy around her work.
The historical setting for much of Walker’s work is the American pre—Civil War antebellum South. She often draws upon or references literature of the time period and minstrel shows of the 1830s-40s. The combination of the realism of slavery and its history and the fictional space created in her references to historical romance novels complicated Walker’s depiction of history. In much of her work, for example, Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart fact, fiction, and fantasy are intertwined; exaggerated truths and fictionalized events are presented as history lessons that viewers must sort out and decide which elements are true. Through this decoding of the truth Walker comments on the way that official history is just as constructed as her stories. Issues and questions of power are raised, such as, who has the power to write history and who has the power to write others out of history? Whose voices are left out of the re-telling of history?
Walker’s tone in very satirical and critical which is evident in her use of language in the titles of her work. The titles also show the refernces to literature like Gone With the Wind or Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven she draws upon a popular novel and re-tells the narrative to expose the complex, ambiguous and unsettling subject of racial representation and the history of slavery and racism in the U.S. She explores the complexity of race, gender and sexuality with critical commentary that forces the viewer to question and re-evaluate representation and history.