kara walker captures the dark reality of britain's colonial past at tate modern
 

kara walker captures the dark reality of britain's colonial past at tate modern

london’s tate modern has unveiled a 13-meter-tall fountain created by american artist kara walker as a scathing critique on british colonialism. titled ‘fons americanus’, the installation is inspired by the victoria memorial that sits in front of buckingham palace. however, rather than celebrate britain’s imperial past, the work sheds light on the sinister realities that its empire was built on.

image © ben fisher (also main image)

 

 

fons americanus is formed by walker from two oval basins filled with water and a series of tiers surrounded by sculptures. the figures, which from afar may seem like your typical baroque forms, can be appreciated up close for their powerful message. for example, the female figure at the top of the fountain arches her back in what could be pleasure, however one soon sees she has actually suffered a fatal wound to the neck. other grim details include a noose hanging from a tree, shark-infested waters and a man with his hands in chains.

image © ben fisher

 

 

the sculptural figures covering the monument are derived from an array of art historical, literary and cultural sources, including turner’s ‘slave ship’ from 1840. with the figures, the artist references the transatlantic slave trade, inverting the typical narrative of public monuments. to emulate the appearance of marble, the work has been created using recyclable cork, wood and metal, coated in a solvent-free acrylic and cement composite.

image © ben fisher

 

known for her provocative work, walker’s latest installation intends to make us reassess our perception of the past, and in particular what is remembered and what is forgotten in public monuments. on display in tate modern until april 5th, 2020, the work marks the fifth annual hyundai commission, a series of site-specific works created for the turbine hall by renowned international artists.

image © ben fisher

image © ben fisher

image © tate (matt greenwood)

image © tate (matt greenwood)

image © tate (matt greenwood)

image © tate (matt greenwood)

image © ben fisher

image © tate (matt greenwood)

 

 

project info:

 

installation name: fons americanus

artist: kara walker

location: turbine hall, tate modern, london, UK

dates: 2 october 2019 – 5 april 2020

times: open daily 10.00 – 18.00 and until 22.00 on friday and saturday

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