KARA WALKER – EXHIBITION DIGITORIAL®

Intro

15. Oct. 2021 – 16. Jan. 2022

‘merica, 2016, sheet from the suite “The Gross Clinician Presents: Pater Gravidam”, 2018 (detail)

In 2015, Jacky Alciné, a programmer from Brooklyn, was surprised that the then new Google Photo service created a “Gorillas” subfolder when it sorted his private photos. In the folder he discovered around 80 photos: They showed friends of his who were Black. The image recognition software obviously did not differentiate between Black people and gorillas . Three years later, Google fixed the problem – not by changing the algorithm, but by simply deleting the folder category.

This is just one example of racist actions by software against Black people. Sometimes the discrimination affects the former US President Barack Obama, whose face is not recognized by digital programs even though he is one of the world’s most prominent figures. Other times, Black users find that photo software does not recognize their faces but can identify white masks they put on as such. Another example are contactless faucets in public toilets that don’t work for Black people because the sensors are unable to identify their skin. Black artist Kara Walker repeatedly returns to the themes of abuse of power, violence, sexualized bodies, gender, in the present as well as in history. She holds a mirror up to society or the audience with what are at times drastic and explicit but also caricaturing images.

Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices 

Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices 

Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices 

Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices Voices 

6 artworks from the suite with 44 works, Without Titel, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

6 artworks from the suite with 44 works, Without Titel, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

6 artworks from the suite with 44 works, Without Titel, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

6 artworks from the suite with 44 works, Without Titel, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

ARTWORK FROM A SUITE WITH 44 WORKS, UNTITLED, 2019

Anti-Black Racism

Anti-Black racism can be described as racial discriminatory practices, which specifically target Black people. This specific form of racism is based on the idea that Black people’s minds, bodies, and ideas are worth less than those of non-Black people. The term captures and reveals the hardships Black people have been facing over several millennia. Depending on time and locality, racial discriminatory practices have been changing and can be historically traced throughout the different stages of Antiquity, to the so-called Middle and Modern Ages up until today. A common factor throughout time and place is that they are designed to oppress Black people’s lives, ultimately having serious long-term and in many cases deadly consequences for Black people and their families. Specific historic examples of practices that contribute to the dehumanizing of Black people are the Indian Ocean Slave Trade and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Contemporary examples include Black communities being more vulnerable to Covid-19 deaths, voter suppression or restricted access to education in countries like Brazil or the US, but also police brutality and racial profiling, which can be observed and experienced in Germany as well.

Like most parts of the world, Germany has a history with Anti-Black racism. Having forcibly colonized parts of western, southern, and eastern Africa, German authorities implemented segregation laws in the early twentieth century, which ensured that the children by white colonizers and Black colonized people were left without access to German citizenship. Although this Anti-Black practice is officially outdated, the notion that “German-ness” equals whiteness is still existent and experienced in German society to this day. This highlights that Anti-Black racism is not limited to institutionalized forms of discrimination, as everyday microaggressions carrying Anti-Black thought also exist. This text provides basic insights into some of the complex dynamics of Anti-Black racism. (MGM)

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