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no world
From the series An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters

Kara Walker, American, born 1969. Printed by Burnet Editions, New York.

Printed in New York, New York, United States, North and Central America


Lift ground and spit bite aquatint, and drypoint

Plate: 24 x 35 3/4 inches (61 x 90.8 cm) Sheet: 30 1/4 x 39 5/16 inches (76.8 x 99.9 cm)

© Kara Walker

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Marion Stroud Fund for Contemporary Art on Paper, 2010

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In her series of six etchings An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters, Walker constructs enigmatic images that reflect on the traumatic history of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacy of violence and racial strife. In no world, one of two prints from the series on view here, Walker ambiguously alludes to the futile prospects for slaves who were shipped to the Americas. With no real hope of freedom, the woman submerged in the ocean might be swimming in an attempt to escape, or drowning as a victim of shipwreck. Meanwhile, the caricatured figures on shore suggest an unsettling future for those who survive the treacherous journey.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    Best known for her installations of enigmatic black cut-paper figures that recall Victorian silhouettes, Kara Walker uses provocative imagery to address the complex legacy of discrimination, oppression, and sexual exploitation initiated by the transatlantic slave trade. Blending elegantly crafted forms, biting humor, and horrific, often violent subjects drawn from stereotypes of the antebellum South, she avoids explicit narratives, instead compelling the viewer to contemplate multiple interpretations. Here she conflates a vignette of plantation life with a distressed ship and a nude woman in watery depths, exploiting the carefully modulated black and gray aquatint tones to underscore the graphic power of the silhouetted forms and the dark tenor of her subject. Shelley Langdale, Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 424.