Kara Walker / United States b.1969 / No world (from ‘An unpeopled land in uncharted waters’ series) 2010 / Etching with aquatint, sugar-lift, spit-bite and dry-point on Hahnemühle Copperplate Bright White 300gsm paper / 68.5 x 99cm / Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / © The artist

Kara Walker
No world (from ‘An unpeopled land in uncharted waters’ series) 2010

On Display: QAG, Gallery 17

Kara Walker is known for her use of silhouettes to create elaborate narratives. These are often set in the southern part of the United States before the American Civil War and deal with the history of slavery. Walker sources her images from historical textbooks and illustrated periodicals, transforming them into cruel yet beautiful shadow plays that reflect on questions and preconceptions concerning race, sexuality and oppression.

For Walker, the silhouette is an apt metaphor for her practice, creating an ironic series of associations that play on physical displacement — blank/black; hole/whole; shadow/substance. Her series of etchings ‘An unpeopled land in uncharted waters’ combines the language of silhouettes with other printmaking techniques to create subtle shifts between light and shade.