Nick Cave Unseats the Golliwog

THE DAILY PIC: A black artist takes on our past's worst images of blackness.



This is a piece by Nick Cave, from his show called “Made by Whites for Whites” now at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. The exhibition is built around images of blacks that have survived from the bad (or worse) old days of American racism. In some cases, Cave has dressed up his vintage objects in a decorative mass of found trinkets, to the point where the racist figures’ original threat is exhausted or at least concealed. This piece, called King of the Hill, is by itself in a little side room, and it’s properly chilling. The 1940s Golliwog costume that some whitey wore to amuse his friends now seems to come packed with all the threat that it must have had all along for black people, but which its owner was blind to (or maybe rejoiced in). There’s something especially unsettling about its leering, king-of-the-castle perch atop a pile of blankets, the iconic symbol of comfort and nurture. (Photo by Lucy Hogg)

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