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Kara Walker, Norma

August 30, 2016

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Kara Walker’s Norma is currently back at Teatro La Fenice, Venice, IT.

A 2015 production of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma is back on stage. The sets had been commisioned by the 56th Venice Biennial management to American artist and painter Kara Walker, who also costume designed and directed the opera. The production was staged at Teatro La Fenice in May-June 2015 and has now returned until the 18th of September.

Walker moved the action from Roman Gaul to an unspecified African colony in the 18th century under European subjugation. Often provocative and humorous, Kara Walker’s art explores gender, race, sexuality, violence and identity, and the tensions of relations. She often renders slavery, conflict or violence, in a style recalling traditional African illustration and folklore of the pre-Civil War United States. Notably by means of silhouetted narratives.

She has said about her work:

Art means too much to me. To be able to articulate something visually is really an important thing. I wanted to make work where the viewer wouldn’t walk away; he would either giggle nervously, get pulled into history, into fiction, into something totally demeaning and possibly very beautiful. I wanted to create something that looks like you. It looks like a cartoon character, it’s a shadow, it’s a piece of paper, but it’s out of scale. It refers to your shadow, to some extent to purity, to the mirror.

The sets are mainly composed by a silhouetted deck in the upstage on the back of which different “art piece” backdrops change from act to act creating a unique visual effect.

Kara Walker – Norma (V. Bellini) – 2015 | Teatro La Fenice
DirectionKara Walker
Set designKara Walker
Costume designKara Walker
Photo creditsTeatro La Fenice / Michele Crosera