Medien und Metaphern des Schwarzweiß – Geschichte, Geschlecht und Bilderpolitik bei Kara Walker – mit einem kurzen Ausflug zu Cindy Sherman und Zwelethu Mthethwa


  • Anja Zimmermann



Anja Zimmermann

Media and Metaphors of Black-and-white. History, Gender and Visual Politics in the Work of Kara Walker, Cindy Sherman, and Zwelethu Mthethwa

Artistic techniques of black-and-white are loaded with cultural meaning. In part referring to color and contrast, black-and-white also always connotes racial difference. The article explores this intertwined relationship of certain artistic strategies and their cultural effects. Concentrating on the work of the American artist Kara Walker, who uses silhouettes in her work, the aim is to show how this and other related techniques are used to thwart prevailing notions of gender and race. Having created a fiercely debated body of work that has been called sexist and racist by a number of critics, Kara Walker is an example of the ambiguous effects of invoking pertinent stereotypes.

Another focal point is the possible consequences for analyzing artwork that does not overtly deal with race but which nevertheless – e.g. by using black-and-white techniques –should be read in this context. Cindy Sherman is a case in point, as her work deals with representations of white femininity, but was received merely as a comment on postmodern debates about gender.