Pamięć o przeszłości Afroameryki — „8 Possible Beginnings” Kary Walker

Jacek Zwierzyński


This paper analyzes Kara Walker’s video piece 8 Possible Beginnings or: The Creation of African-America (2005) and examines the critical potential of contemporary art as a prism apt to observe the limitations of historiography and its mechanisms. An increasing interest in re-thinking history and its interpretation that is observable in the contemporary artistic practice corresponds with the current crisis of the discipline of history, which can no longer be equated with the truth about the past. Walker’s art, of which the past and its present meaning are the major themes, reflects the postmodern distrust in objectivizing historical discourses. In 8 Possible Beginnings, the continuity that establishes African America is rendered as grotesque transfigurations of human body, faces, corpses, and plants. Henceforth, Walker opposes not only the ongoing legacy of racial discrimination, but also the mechanism of the disavowal that constitutes African American identity and the experience of the past. In the bitter parody of an origin story, the tale of progress is replaced by an abject genealogy of death. While combining facts, fiction, and cruel fantasies, Walker confronts the viewer with the historical significance of her ahistorical narratives.

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