Artist Kara Walker’s first public installation, a 75 and a half foot tall, gigantic polystyrene sphinx covered in snowy white sugar, opens May 10 in an abandoned Domino Sugar Factory hall. Although the demolition date hasn’t been set for that part of the factory, the tearing down of other parts of the waterfront factory began last year, soon to be replaced by sky high towers, a park and a school.
Commissioned by Creative Time, the artist has given the sphinx a grandiose title suitable to its monumental size and pose: 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.
As the title suggests, the fate of the factory is an integral part of the installation and she links it back to the ironies and contradicting ethics of gentrification and race matters:
The African-American facial features with the sphinx’s sugary whiteness says plenty about her bold intentions. “She’s possessing two modes of being at once, supplicant with the large butt, but also self-possessed and in control and offering a kind of gentle ‘fuck you.’” -Walker