The Sugar Baby in the Sugar Factory

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kara Walker's site-specific work, "A Subtlety", is on display at the Domino Sugar Factory. The full title of the work is: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby: an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. Art critic Deborah Solomon talks about the piece and the space in context.

(Photography by Jason Wyche, Courtesy Creative Time, 2014)


Deborah Solomon

Comments [17]

Amy from Manhattan

Cy Daniels, Kara Walker was on the Leonard Lopate Show last week. There's a link on this page right under the photos.

May. 21 2014 12:05 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Black Socialist.

May. 21 2014 12:01 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Becky, with all due respect, I think Ellen's patronizing is rather suffocating.

May. 21 2014 11:58 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

ellen from billburg - your comment is truly ignorant. ignorant of walker's work, ignorant of art in general, ignorant of what walker was conveying, ignorant of the world.... pathetic

May. 21 2014 11:30 AM
The Truth from Becky

@SHELDON - What Ellen said.

May. 21 2014 11:27 AM
Cy Daniels from New York City

Kara Walker is right here in New York - Why on earth wouldn't you invite her on the show to speak about the piece herself? Do you feel you need the white establishment to speak for her. I found her exclusion from your show offensive.

May. 21 2014 11:27 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

@Harlem from Harlem, same old same old. The work doesn’t add much to America’s understanding of slavery and it’s history. This work is a shop worn formula used by many artists over the passed 3 or 4 generations. It’s a form of window dressing for the NYC white art establishment.
“We really understand.”

May. 21 2014 11:27 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

If a viewer needs a explanation as what the work means then it has failed as public art. The image should tell the viewer what the content is or is not. Just Kitsch.

May. 21 2014 11:18 AM
Ellen from Williamsburg

What a wasted opportunity.

No mention of displacement of the workers who this factory employed for decades,the union busting taht closed this factory, no discussion of working class mowed down for the elites who will live there, and the existing neighborhood about to be buried for development. Then there is this degrading image of an African woman. I know Walker is black, it is hideous nonetheless. Not to mention no truth to materials - a sugar glazed styrofoam monstrosity.

If it is possible to make sugar cubes, it is possible to make building blocks of sugar - at least that would be honest.

May. 21 2014 11:15 AM
Andy Campbell from Putnam County, NY

Beautiful photography, great installation!--could we see a shot or two of the exterior?

May. 21 2014 11:11 AM
Harlem from Harlem

I saw Ms. Walker's Utube video which is a short biographical intro into how she focused her art work on slavery and black stereotypes. This installation is a polemic or better, agitprop and is done with aplomb. It is an astonishing piece of sculpture. Sadly, most viewers who are not knowledgeable about American slavery will not comprehend the artist thrust. This exhibition is an indictment of the slave trade in the commodity, in this instance, the harvesting and processing of sugar. This was back breaking labor, toiling long days in the broilinng sun. The female form is robust, to a certain extent sexualized, to debunk white svelt standarf o feminity.

May. 21 2014 11:11 AM
Amy from Manhattan

What does the work say about the current state of the sugar industry & its workers?

May. 21 2014 11:10 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Taher - their words not mine.

@Truth - why would you want that?

May. 21 2014 11:06 AM
Jay from NYC

Fabulous work -- perfect place, perfect commentary.
Much more important than Koons cartoons.
Look forward to more work from Kara Walker that focuses on the future rather than the past.
Hope rather than history and irony -- can art handle it?

May. 21 2014 11:05 AM
The Truth from Becky

Can't wait until they destroy this creation.

May. 21 2014 11:01 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

@Sheldon from Brooklyn, say the art work looks like homage to kitsch art.

May. 21 2014 10:52 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes"

Artisans? A sugar-coated way to say slaves?

Sugar, not cotton, was responsible for the majority of slavery and its underlying brutality in the Western Hemisphere.

May. 21 2014 10:31 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.