- Museum number
Object: no world
Series: An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters
A ship being carried by a pair of hands emerging from a choppy ocean apparently towards land on which two silhouetted figures can be seen standing in a plantation or cornfield. In the foreground, the silhouetted figure of a black female appears to be swimming away from the land. 2010
Aquatint with spit-bite and drypoint on white wove Hahnemüller paper
- Production date
Height: 606 millimetres (plate)
Height: 768 millimetres (sheet)
Width: 1007 millimetres
Width: 905 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This print is from Kara Walker's series of six intaglio prints titled 'An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters'. The series was printed by Gregory Burnet of Burnet Editions, New York in an edition of 30 expressed in Arabic numbers. The titles of the individual prints are expressed in lower case. Gregory Burnet also printed in a separate edition of 25 impressions of 'no world', which were numbered with Roman numerals. The BM's print is one of three printer's proofs outside the latter edition. The publisher was Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
The title of this print is a pun on the phrase 'New World'. Like much of Walker's work, it deals with the history of black people in America and specifically with the experience of African slaves in the southern states. The ship is presumably a slave ship and the figures on land a plantation owner (who can be identified by his wide-brimmed hat, pipe and authoritative stance) and a black slave. The female figure in the water may be a slave who has escaped the ship or a slave who is drowning, as so many did on the perilous journey to America. Alternatively, the figure could represent the collective desire of the African slaves to return to their homeland. The scene is presented from the viewpoint of somebody in the water. As viewers, we are therefore invited to put ourselves in the position of the slaves.
Text from Coppel, Daunt and Tallman, 'The American Dream: pop to the present', London: Thames and Hudson in association with the British Museum, 2017, cat. no. 182:
A pun on the phrase ‘New World’, the title of this print suggests a different experience from that of European settlers for whom the journey to America promised opportunity and freedom. As otherworldly hands emerge from a choppy ocean carrying a slave ship to shore, the silhouetted figures of a plantation owner and slave can be seen on land, a glimpse of a life to come. A figure of a black woman beneath the water brings to mind the many slaves who did not survive the horrific and perilous voyage. Presenting the scene from the perspective of the water, Walker invites the viewer to identify with these drowning souls. Printed by Burnet Editions and published by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, the layers of aquatint used to evoke the vast depths of the Atlantic display a great mastery of the technique.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017 9 Mar-18 Jun, London, BM, G30, The American Dream
2018 2 Jun-2 Sept, Paris, Fondation Custodia, The American Dream: pop to the present
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number