the bank of the Mississippi River

QUESTION

(1) Katastwóf Karavan, created by Kara Walker, is a wagon that has a calliope inside of it. Katastwóf Karavan, is installed at Algiers Point on the bank of the Mississippi River and was activated d

(1)

Katastwóf Karavan, created by Kara Walker, is a wagon that has a calliope inside of it.  Katastwóf Karavan, is installed at Algiers Point on the bank of the Mississippi River and was activated daily across three days in February 2018.  Katastwóf Karavan featured a thirty-two-note steam calliope performed by Moran and housed in a wagon developed by Walker. There are silhouettes of people on the front and sides of the wagon.  The monument pays tribute to Africans who were brought there to be sold into slavery in the 1700s.

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This monument is different from other monuments because unlike regular monuments that just sit in one place forever, Katastwóf Karavan moves from place to place and interacts with people by playing music from the calliope inside of the wagon. Walker has said that ” It’s 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.”

I personally like this monument because it is different from other monuments around the world. It moves from place to place so people may not have to travel far to see it. I like that it has a calliope and the wagon itself honor the people who were sold into slavery.

(2)

Katastwóf Karavan is a nontraditional, moveable monument mixed with a musical instrument in the form of a steam calliope wagon. The piece was designed by Kara Walker and the calliope was played by pianist Jason Moran. The purpose of the monument and it’s performance is to honor African ancestors that were brought to Algiers Point and abused and forced into slavery. Walker chose Algiers Point because of the disappointing “memorial” that was currently there. The wagon is covered in silhouettes depicting racist stereotypes made from stainless steel and inside the wagon contains a working steam calliope. The name Katastwóf Karavan means Catastrophe Wagon in Haitian Creole, which signifies the tragedy that Africans brought here had to endure. Moran played historical black protest tunes to pay tribute to African ancestors by “uplifting the voices that were once suppressed”(Art21).

Katastwóf Karavan differs from a traditional monument because it is an active moving piece, unlike traditional monuments which are immobile, motionless objects. Not only was it a monument, but also a performance. Kara Walker made her monument an active piece because she did not want it to just sit there and become forgotten like traditional monuments tend to do. Traditional monuments have a permanent placement never to be moved, but Walker stated in the video that her piece does not have a destined home and plans to travel the monument to other places that are like Algiers Point.

I read about how there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Walker’s work, but I think her Katastwóf Karavan is a beautiful tribute to African ancestors. There are so many details all through out the piece that has significant meaning that pays respect to the ones that suffered there. The calliope, the silhouettes, the music, the wagon, the location, every detail is meaningful and significant.

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