I enjoyed meeting author and feminist critic Susan Faludi at luncheon hosted by her publisher some months back. Later, I enjoyed reading her book The Terror Dream when it came to my office in hardback. When I spied the paperback edition at Kramerbooks today, I thought the redesigned cover was quite stunning.
I also thought--assumed, was dead sure--that the cover was using the art work of Kara Walker. Compare:
...to some work from Kara Walker's recent exhibition, My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love:
As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of Walker's work. Because she is a political artist in her own right, I was surprised to see her willing to affiliate with Faludi, who has her own set of controversies. Well, it turns out this artwork is not credited to Kara Walker; it is apparently part of the "original" book design.
Which leaves me feeling a touch of discomfort. I recognize that whereas Southern iconography reigns in Walker's work, this cover substitutes Western images. Instead of dancing slaves, we have a dancing "injun." Maybe that's enough difference on a legal level. But I have the uncomfortable suspicion that Walker has exhibited an image very similar to that silhouette of the woman straddling the cowboy. Walker's version might be in a plantation skirt, and he might have a foreman's whip instead of a Stetson. Still, the spirit is the same: the oppressed loving her oppressor.
Does anyone else think this is an odd echo? Has Walker developed a "style" that, like Andy Warhol, can be imitated without consequence?