Americas

Kelley Walker
Black Star Press

The triptych Black Star Press is part of the series ‘The Black Star Press project’ initiated in 2004 by the American artist Kelley Walker. The images in this series are taken from a photo essay on the struggle for civil rights in Alabama, directed by Charles Moore in 1962 (and published by the magazine ‘Life’) which showed the repression of the black population and persistent inequalities in the southern United States. The title “Black Star Press” is taken from the name of the news agency where Charles Moore worked, and it refers to the young black man shot fighting for the rights of his community. Of those recovered images, scanned and screen printed, Walker poured dark chocolate, white and milk chocolate in the manner of a dripping. This symbolic gesture breaks down the documentary nature of the image and expresses heightened subjectivity of Abstract Expressionism, which opposes the action a cold mechanical representation of the image. Reactivating the potential opened up by Andy Warhol’s artistic offerings in the series ‘Race Riot’, “Black Star Press” echoes the entire tradition of image appropriation, from Pop Art and Appropriationism itself.

While the pop art movement and the appropriationist movement essentially concerned the iconography of popular media, like newspapers to TV commercials, Kelley Walker is interested in the media system as a whole. Her work frequently questions the notions of author and audience, originality and authenticity, reproduction and the circulation of images. The artist plays with the usual distribution system of the work of art.  The image contained therein can indeed be reproduced endlessly and printed in various formats according to wishes of the buyer, as exemplified in the work Shema (2003). Demonstrating that there is more ways than one to escape the rehearsal process, Untitled (2003) is a steel plate of the recycling logo superimposed over an image. For Walker, it is no longer necessary to appropriate ideas, objects, images but to recycle them: the perpetual recycling of codes and systems inherent in advertising. But also of history, politics, and art in the United States.
Kelley Walker was born in 1969 in Columbus, Georgia. She lives and works in New York.