CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/16/2021
Featured spreads are from Kara Walker: A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be, the astonishing new 600-page collection of drawings from the artist's private archive, published by JRP | Editions to accompany a major Kunstmuseum Basel show opening June 5, 2021. "It is hubristic to believe that a saved handwritten memo reading: 'A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be' taped to my wall should be regarded by me as a monument," Walker writes. "I scrawled it in the hope its meaning would become clear to me later. The phrase was initially cartooned onto a long scroll of images and notes from 2012, the entire phrase beginning 'The Sweet Sweet Smell of Success and the Stench of Ingratitude … A Black Hole Is Everything a Star Longs to Be.” The image that accompanies this is that of a Black woman, naked, crouched—vomiting on the shoe of an empowered (clothed, pointing, scowling) white man, whose foot is perched on a shoeshine stand. The implication is that this drawing, in its smallness, is a rejection of blind subservience to patriarchal demands that art and artists cater to the market, to the man, to art history, to scale, or to anything not of her own making. I revel in the contradictory pose of the subservient miss, giving 'not what he asked for,' but giving nonetheless. The private drawing satisfies the public urge—a purgative. This phrase is also about the Anti-Art Star who finds more promise in the dark gravitational forces of the Black Hole.
Astronomically a black hole tears apart the known universe; it shakes the foundations of what science can know (and is thus ironically relegated to being 'black') and it is the potential fate of every star in the known heavens. I rediscovered the scroll with this comment fast on the heels of the news about the making of the first recorded image of a black hole—an out of focus capture, but an ultimately fascinating image taken by the Hubble telescope of the distant anomaly. Suddenly the poetic little phrase felt timely, and I rewrote it hastily and taped it to the wall as a reminder that it was ready to come into its own, to do its dark magic, as a title, and as an action."
Pbk, 8.25 x 11 in. / 600 pgs / 722 color.