Ahhh “The Subtlety”, Kara Walker’s recent exhibit at the Domino Factory concluded this weekend, but not without controversy. Known for her socially charged artwork, The exhibit In what Creativetime.org,( the curators of the exhibit) describes
“Confected a 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 Plan
For the sake of appealing to a wider audience,understandable. They wont say explores child slavery built on the backs of Africans on the sugar plantations of their white masters certainly not the recipe for build it and they will come.
Asked by some if I found it offensive, not really, or an atrocity?, of course not. I went in with prior knowledge of Walker’s powerful art and the history of African-Americans who were enslaved by their white oppressors so I wasn’t angry but moved.
Most of the controversy stems from The Subtlety’s “The Marvelous Sugar Baby”. Yes, That Giant Sugar “Negress” you can’t deny is in the room :).
There are tons of articles on Walker’s awesome spectacle along with the ridicule and outrage associated with it. (Why I Yelled at The Kara Walker Exhibit, Selfie Culture And Kara Walkers A Subtlety to name a few) most of which raised valid points.
For me what was more disturbing were the basket carrying Tchotchkes, child workers marred in molasses, whose eyes are now blacked out from weeks of melted sugar. I thought of children enduring mass cruelty at the hands of a racist capitalist society during slavery and present day for that matter. Their souls observing our fascination, curiosity or worse, disingenuous insensitivity. Should I blame them for their insensitivity to Kara Walkers art when black folks have been abused, murdered and ridiculed for centuries. Ignorance begets ignorance, WTF? and to be dramatic, Evil begets Evil.
Does Kara Walker owe her audience an explanation for her art along with hand holding?, I don’t think so. Why should she bear the burden of other people’s insensitivity and ignorance.
Why succumb to the old practices of divide and conquer? Maybe it’s time we raise hell about widespread unemployment and reparations 🙂
Photos by Setty McIntosh
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