Kara Walker's new installation at the Tate Modern is "a sardonic counterprogram to the celebration of empire", writes Siddhartha Mitter. It presents a memorial to a history that has not yet passed.
'The Queen Victoria Memorial, centerpiece of the plaza that fronts Buckingham Palace, is possibly the most bombastic of this city’s monuments to British grandeur.
Beside Victoria, queen and empress, glowering toward the Mall, is a cascade of allegorical statuary representing Courage and Constancy, Truth and Justice, Manufacture and Agriculture, Peace and Progress, and Motherhood. Ship’s prows jut from the corners. Bas-relief mermaids and mermen watch over its fountain pool. Dedicated in 1911, the edifice projects the historical certainty and moral satisfaction of the Britannia that ruled the waves.
Kara Walker was on her way to Heathrow Airport from her initial site visit to the Tate Modern, after being selected for the museum’s annual Turbine Hall commission, when she saw the memorial from her taxi.
“I hadn’t even seen it before,” Ms. Walker recalled recently at her Brooklyn studio. “I took a bunch of pictures out the window, because I was like — this is so totally my thing.”
Ms. Walker’s installation, the latest in the high-profile series that began in 2000 with Louise Bourgeois, opens this week in the cavernous atrium of the power plant-turned-museum on the south bank of the Thames, and runs until April.
She has built a twisted counterpart to the Victoria Memorial — a fountain whose jets emerge from the nipples and open jugular of a Venus figure 40 feet up, feeding a basin populated by sailors and sharks.'... Keep reading on The New York Times