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Kara Walker and the Urban Scene

Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 25, 2019. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center Boardroom
Workshop: 
Feminist/Queer Colloquium
Meeting Description: 

In this presentation, Stanford Arts Institute fellow Nicholas Gamso will discuss his ongoing engagement with the work of artist Kara Walker. Walker has for more than twenty years explored the repressed psychodrama of racial difference in American memory. With 2014’s A Subtlety—a massive installation at the disused Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, BK—the artist marked a decisive shift in her practice, traversing normative institutional space by investing in public performance and participatory social practice. A Subtlety adopted the gentrifying Brooklyn waterfront as its primary field of engagement, calling upon the themes of subjection and alienation to animate the evolving relations between members of its audience. Walker’s more recent works—Go to Hell or Atlanta (2015) and Katastwóf Karavan (2018)—take Georgia’s confederate Stone Mountain monument and a New Orleans slave-trading post as her principal referents. In these works, the artist continues her investigation into the lifeworlds of American urban spaces. This talk will explore these works in order to formulate urban cultural politics as a series of contingent and relational positions. Walker’s turn to contested urban environments invites us to consider how a play of race, gender, and sexuality licenses contemporary art practice and structures the scene of its reception.

Nicholas Gamso is a Creative Cities fellow in the Stanford Arts Institute. He researches art, media, and performance in counterpoint with racial and sexual politics. His book project — The Bloomberg Archipelago — explores the relation between creative urbanism and racial capitalism through an analysis of contemporary art practices in New York. Nick holds a PhD from CUNY and was a visiting fellow at the Pratt Institute before coming to Stanford. This winter, he taught a seminar, “Art, Gentrification, and Intersectional Racial Politics.”

Nicholas’ article on A Subtlety, "Kara Walker Answers the Urban Question” (Social Text 35.4), will be provided in advance. Please RSVP: https://forms.gle/mjYRKDATi2srTugb7

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