The New Yorker Festival Preview: Kara Walker

An interview with the celebrated artist helps open a week of events featuring luminaries in politics, news, and culture


By The New YorkerOctober 3, 2021

A person plays a trumpet amid the New York City skyline.

The twenty-second New Yorker Festival kicks off on Monday, welcoming audiences virtually and in person to panel discussionsmusical performances, a film screening, and more. The youngest guest, the teen-age pop phenomenon Billie Eilish, is younger than the Festival itself; among her fellow-participants are best-selling authorsactivist entertainers, and New York State’s pathbreaking attorney general. The first night concludes with one of the brightest stars in the art world, and the only Festival guest who has both been profiled in the magazine and created a pair of its covers.

As Hilton Als wrote, in 2007, Kara Walker is the mind behind “provocative—frequently incendiary—and racially charged images,” an artist whose work challenges viewers with its depictions of gender, sexuality, and slavery. Famous initially for her silhouette technique, which alludes to and subverts an earlier American style, Walker has imagined a vivid new way to hold the past to account. “Walker’s vision,” Als writes, “is of history as trompe-l’oeil. Things are not what they seem, because America is, literally, incredible, fantastic—a freak show that is almost impossible to watch, let alone to understand.”’ve read your last complimentary article this month. Subscribe Now. If you’re already a subscriber sign in.

The New Yorker offers a signature blend of news, culture, and the arts. It has been published since February 21, 1925.More:Kara WalkerArtRacism

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