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>> Selection of Reviews on Kara Walker and Sugimoto

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Selection of Reviews on Kara Walker in Vienna's MuseumsQuartier and Sugimoto's "Portraits" in Singapore

"Instead of a charming fairy tale, we have rape, murder, and humiliation here. Nothing is holy to Kara Walker – even the angels on the top edge of the picture are unabashedly copulating in every conceivable position." In her exhibition review in the feminist magazine an.schläge, Angela Heissenberger praises the cutting criticism of sexist and racist relationships of power in Walker's works. The author believes to have located the material for the artist's "theatrical shadow worlds" in Walker's biography: even if she "does without references to the black civil rights movement," and is herself "comparatively well-situated as a member of the black middle class," Heissenberger considers this approach to the racism of the past important. "Racial conflicts, social grievances, and everyday sexism – we're a far cry from an ‘ideal' world." In Vienna's Standard, Markus Mittringer underscores the "allegedly so animalistic sexuality of the black woman," which in his opinion Walker carries to a grotesque and ironic extreme in order to show "that not every promise Abraham Lincoln made with the ‘Emancipation Proclamation' of 1863 has come to pass."
"Walker has embarked on a dangerous path," Die Presse, on the other hand, fears in view of the artist's provocative decision to want to "be a little bit of a slave." Even if Walker has found a certain degree of recognition in the international art world, the reviewer finds this kind of candor dubious.

Thus, her works "unconditionally serve exactly what they seek to denounce: voyeurism and prejudice. Yet, as so often, the museum's walls protect art from itself."

The press reactions to Hiroshi Sugimoto's Portraits, which can presently be seen in the Singapore Art Museum, are somewhat less tense: "Relax, it's just wax": this is the calming motto Clara Chow uses to announce Sugimoto's show in the Straits Times; for her, the resemblance between historical personalities and Hollywood actors is obvious: "A portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose lowered gaze makes a rather crestfallen impression, was hung next to the Duke of Wellington, who looks like an arrogant Christopher Reeves." The Portraits play with "our unquenchable desire for the famous and the legendary," Cheah Ui-Hoon also found in the Business Times; visiting the exhibition, the author thought he'd detected "uncanny similarities": "Madame Tussaud's meets London's National Portrait Gallery." He was impressed by the interplay between the camera and the wax likenesses, especially in that Sugimoto doesn't present the ordinary camera tricks that "one might expect in a contemporary art exhibition. Here, it's a matter of entirely uncomplicated portrait photography, and it almost seems somehow old-fashioned and deceptive." – And accompanied by a thoroughly modern didactic museum program: parallel to the exhibition, the Olympics trainer Jeffrey Lopez instructs young art enthusiasts in the "art of fencing," which the Straits Times finds very noteworthy.