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Sending Out A SignalKara Walker & Jason Moran

October 31, 2018

In a candid one-on-one conversation, Kara Walker and composer/musician Jason Moran discuss their collaboration for the Prospect.4 triennial in New Orleans, “Katastwóf Karavan” (2018). Installed at Algiers Point on the bank of the Mississippi River and activated daily across three days in February 2018, the work featured a thirty-two-note steam calliope performed by Moran and housed in a wagon developed by Walker.

A contemporary calliope, “Katastwóf Karavan” uses the mechanics of American manufacturing to uplift the voices it once suppressed. Historically this “music is used for people who are captive” Moran notes, eliciting feelings of both celebration and distress. “As a stationary object, it always needs to be activated,” Walker explains. “When you have monuments or commemorative things that just exist, they sit there and they disappear.”

Walker and Moran share how performing “Katastwóf Karavan” at Algiers Point pays tribute to Africans who were brought there to be sold into slavery in the 1700s. The calliope will honor “millions of ancestors, in a way that we aren’t sure about what we’re about to touch,” says Moran. Not intended to live in one place, Walker hopes to tour the monument to other locations similar to Algiers, noting “there are many places like that in the Americas and I think that it’s worthwhile to explore.”

More information and credits


Producer: Ian Forster. Editor: Rosie Walunas. Colorist: Jonah Greenstein. Camera: Joshua Bagnall, Sean Brown, Mason Cash, Ian Forster, & Andrew Whitlatch. Sound: James Page & Michael Smedes. Production Assistant: Jazz Henry. Artwork Courtesy: Kara Walker & Jason Moran. Photography Courtesy: Ari Marcopoulos. Special Thanks: Allison Hemler, Mike Koller, Prospect New Orleans, Trevor Schoonmaker, Barb Smith, & Workshop Art Fabrication.

Extended Play is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the Art21 Contemporary Council; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Kara Walker

Kara Walker explores the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality in her work, crafting vivid psychological narratives from a contemporary perspective on historical conditions. Over the past two decades, Walker has unleashed the traditionally Victorian medium of the silhouette onto the walls of the gallery, creating immersive installations that envelop the viewer. Walker’s multi-media work—which includes drawing, watercolor, video, and sculpture—often reconsider grotesque caricatures, probing their persistence in popular culture and reclaiming their subjugating power to alternative ends.

Jason Moran

An innovative and genre-crossing pianist, composer, and bandleader, Jason Moran has a venerable career as a recording and performing musician, marrying classical, blues, and jazz with hip-hop, funk, and rock in ways that continually expand genre boundaries. Moran has collaborated with jazz masters such as Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, and the late Sam Rivers, as well as the drummer Nasheet Waits and the bassist Tarus Mateen in the trio, The Bandwagon. Moran also collaborates extensively with a broad range of visual artists, including Adrian Piper, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Stan Douglas, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Julie Mehretu.

“It made me think about the under representation of memorials about the institution of slavery in America.”

Kara Walker

Kara Walker

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Kara Walker

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