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A Taste Of Sugary Sweet Social Oppression

June 17, 2014

Kara Walker’s newest installation is a bit different then her usual cut-paper silhouettes and animations based on her explorations through race, gender, identity, history and power. It still circles with the same subjects but it presents them in a different manner as previous works.
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The installation is titled “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”.
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Inside the massive storage shed of the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn the sculptures reference the luxurious sugar sculptures which were presented during banquets during the time of King Henry V and the triangular trade of slaves, sugar and rum.
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Standing inside the great room, you realize you are surrounded by 15 oddly cute oversized molasses sculptures of kewpie doll-like boys caring what seems to be offerings of sugar fruit and spare body parts for the hybrid monster at the end of the room. Modeled after cheap souvenirs found on Amazon, these fascinating boys seem to be melting under the sunlight, which pours in from the windows at the top of the facility, creating small streams of syrup like liquid onto the dirty floor.
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The main event of the installation, sits quietly surveying all that encircles her. The 75 feet long, 35 feet high, 26 feet wide, four-ton sugar-coated sphinx with a head donning a handkerchief and a large backside revealing a large exposed vulva are the combination of two racial stereotypes; the mammy figure and a satire of the highly sexualized black woman. Also there is a subtle commentary on the mammoth status (whether subconscious or not) on “Kara Walker the American Artist”, by having the large sphinx sculpture share similar features with the artist herself.
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This installation is one of the most impressively grand and ingenious art installations I have ever seen. 
It not only exposes you to something you have never seen before but it indirectly creates questions about art and history that you may never know the answers to.

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