Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times.Illustrated book with offset lithographs on paper and laser-cut pop-up paper silhouettes, 1997.
I have always been emotionally moved by Kara Walker’s powerful art work, especially her intense silhouette murals. This short story, her first work in book format, is illustrated with pop-up versions of Walker’s famous silhouettes. At first it appears to be a vintage children’s book but is actually a contemporary tale of racism and gender discrimination. Set in the Civil War era, Freedom, A Fable tells the story of a female slave who is granted emancipation but still experiences oppression, discovering that freedom is indeed a fable. Walker’s story addresses the persistence of negative stereotypes that emerged in the minstrel shows, novels, and artworks of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also draws upon 19th century novels and memoirs written by former slaves. By presenting her work as a book—an intimate object meant to be held, read, and paged through—Walker implicates us in the corrosive narrative of racism in America.
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