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untitled [The Narrative of the Life and Uncommon Suffering] from Narratives


Glenn Ligon



Institution Walker Art Center
Location Not on view.
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WalkerResources  September 21, 2012

This artwork is on view in the Walker exhibition The Living Years: Art after 1989. The text below is the artwork's label written for that exhibition.

For this portfolio of prints, Glenn Ligon references the typographic style of frontispieces from 19th-century slave narratives. Published by white abolitionists, these often recounted the lives of slaves and tales of their escapes. The artist has replaced the Bible verses and anti-slavery poems that sometimes appeared on these with quotations by contemporary authors he admires, while the narratives tell the story of his own life. “I was interested in the idea of invention and self-invention in autobiography as it speaks to counteracting essential notions of black identity,” Ligon writes. “The ‘one’ that I am is composed of narratives that overlap, run parallel to, and often contradict one another.”

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