New Article: Prissy’s Quittin’ Time: The Black Camp Aesthetics of Kara Walker

A Subtlety, Domino Sugar Factory, New York, NY, USA, June 29, 2014 | © Courtesy of gigi_nyc/Flickr.
A Subtlety, Domino Sugar Factory, New York, NY, USA, June 29, 2014 | © Courtesy of gigi_nyc/Flickr.

Brian Stephens

Published Online: 2017-12-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0059

Abstract

Through a close reading of Walker’s first silhouette instalment-the audaciously titled Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart (1994)-this article examines how Walker utilises black camp to undermine both white supremacist and restrictive black uplift discourse. To be sure, the article is not an attempt to conflate these two, for the former is powerfully worse than the latter. However, it is necessary to explore how both discourses reinforce essentialist articulations of blackness and also to examine how black camp is a provocative analytic for their simultaneous disruption. Camp is usually understood as a queer-derived cultural practice that inflates identity to expose the constructed nature of gender. However, this article shows that black articulations of camp inflate identity to demonstrate the fiction of race as well.


Featured Image Credits: Kara Walker: A Subtlety, Domino Sugar Factory, New York, NY, USA, June 29, 2014 | © Courtesy of gigi_nyc/Flickr.


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