new-york

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, 2014, polystyrene foam blocks, granulated white sugar, water, corn syrup, sugar, molasses, resin. Installation view.

Kara Walker

The Former Domino Sugar Factory

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, 2014, polystyrene foam blocks, granulated white sugar, water, corn syrup, sugar, molasses, resin. Installation view.

Astringent and overwhelming, like the weird burned-sweet tang that harshed the air inside the decommissioned Domino Sugar Factory warehouse where it hulked, A Subtlety, 2014, Kara Walker’s first large-scale public project, was the uneasy blockbuster of the New York art world’s midsummer. The artist’s crouching, house-size mammy, made from forty gleaming tons of bleach-white sugar molded onto foam blocks, stoically presided over a clutch of baby-faced blackamoors in a vast space literally coated with the auburn residue of a century’s worth of processing the sweet stuff. And she drew huge crowds to the Williamsburg coast of the East River, where Walker’s celebrated knack for strategic agitation was on colossally unsubtle display.

The gargantuan sculptural scenario—commissioned by Creative Time—may have represented a formal departure for Walker, whose work has typically

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