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Kara Walker's Subtlety

One wouldn't think something made of 80 tons of sugar could get anywhere near the word subtlety, & I would never have come up with that description on my own. A subtlety, I learned, is a sugar sculpture, created in the olden days for special occasions and the tables of the wealthy.

Kara Walker's majestic subtlety is a Brancusi sphinx that is 75.5' long, 35.5' high & 26' wide, displayed (through July 6) at the old Domino sugar factory in Brooklyn, which was in use from 1882 through 2004. Her installation is subtitled: "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."

I really liked being in the Domino plan, which will soon be torn down to make a park. It smelled like burnt sugar, & there was brown cotton-candy piles of the stuff on the pillars & laced on the walls. It was dark & brilliant, sunny & gloomy—much like the art itself.

As for the show: So much has been said & written that (as I felt with the real sphinx, when I went to Egypt) I'm having a hard time forming my own opinion beyond "breathtaking" and that it was great to see so many (nonwhite!) people standing in line (for over an hour!) to see art.

As you can imagine, there's a lot to the politics of sugar, so for the nonofficial take on the project, you can go to http://artvent.blogspot.com/2014/06/dirty-sugar-kara-walkers-dubious.html
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