English subtitles

← Kara Walker: Starting Out | ART21 "Exclusive"

Get Embed Code
16 Languages

Showing Revision 1 created 01/20/2015 by Amara Bot.

  1. [Kara Walker: Starting Out]
  2. [Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY]
  3. Okay, I think...
  4. I'll probably need the ladder.
  5. Can you move it over a little?
  6. And, um...
  7. Actually...
  8. I have to maybe credit my 24-year-old self
  9. for making a couple of good moves.
  10. [The Drawing Center, New York, NY]
  11. When I started showing work,
  12. I was Providence, Rhode Island--
  13. I was a student.
  14. I was 24,
  15. and had a big breakout piece at
  16. The Drawing Center in New York City.
  17. And it's delicate because the only two things
  18. that are holding them together
  19. are at the fingertips.
  20. This is Huck Finn in a dress,
  21. and his foot is going to land about here.
  22. People were just interested and curious.
  23. Galleries were calling
  24. and wanted to know more,
  25. and artists, they wanted to warn me against
  26. having a big success at a young age.
  27. I kind of felt like,
  28. "Well, I don't know myself yet,"
  29. "and they don't know me either,"
  30. "but if I stay in Providence,"
  31. "and take these opportunities as they come,"
  32. "that's good."
  33. I knew I wasn't ready to live in New York.
  34. But, I knew that change is kind of inevitable,
  35. and I did want to come to the city when I
    felt ready.
  36. I've been teaching for, like, twelve years
    or something
  37. at Columbia University.
  38. I started when I was also a veritable baby
  39. and about the same age as many of the graduate
  40. and that was extremely awkward.
  41. When I came to the city,
  42. I felt like my newly forming ego and sense
    of self
  43. was just, like, torn to shreds.
  44. I don't think I wanted to have the role
  45. that I was hired for,
  46. which was "a successful artist who was successful
    at a young age,"
  47. "telling people how to get what I got."
  48. But, I think I just accepted it this year,
  49. that I must know something--it's been twenty
  50. I don't know what that something is,
  51. but if I just keep talking,
  52. then that something, you know, might slip
  53. [Frieze Art Fair, New York, NY]
  54. There's no diploma in the world that,
  55. you know, declares you as an artist--
  56. it's not like becoming a doctor, or something.
  57. Like, you can declare yourself an artist
  58. and then figure out how to be an artist.
  59. It's a different art world than the one that
    I stepped into.
  60. It does seem to be bigger.
  61. There's more distractions, in a way,
  62. from the process of making one's own work.
  63. The pressure to, kind of, conform to a particular
  64. grad school pedigree is problematic.
  65. And I think a lot of people feel that way.
  66. It's, like, a reality that artists are selling
  67. in order to pay back massive debt from these
    M.F.A. programs.
  68. But, I did tell my students, not too long
  69. that they have to--and will--
  70. change the art world
  71. from the moment they step into it.
  72. Like, if it means prioritizing, you know,
  73. critical discourse over objects,
  74. or products, or something like that.
  75. Then, if that's what you want,
  76. then you have to, kind of, make it happen.
  77. And if it's too expensive to make it happen
    right here,
  78. then you have to make it happen in the place
    where you can,
  79. and don't think of that as any kind of demotion.
  80. If you can look at the negatives as a student
  81. and see what needs to be changed,
  82. then you have to do that.