So Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” has been declared the best public artwork of 2014. BUT at the moment it is NOT public art. Buried in the Domino Sugar factory the work does endure the same public examination that Sofia Maldonado’s 42nd Street murals suffered with public calls for removal and a serious debate about media images of African-Americans in 2010. Move the Sugar Baby to TIMES SQUARE.
In the 21st Century, giant animals have been the dominant trend in narrative public sculpture. So many cities and communities think the monumental animal is the best way to achieve a non-controversial civic image. (Only second to a large 20th century abstract sculpture without content.) The latest is Andy Scott’s horse head in Scotland. Following Lawrence Agent’s blue bear and red rabbit. Jeff Koon’s flower puppy and silver rabbit. Louise Bourgeois’ spider. Arturo Di Modica’s wall street bull.
Of those animals, Argent’s blue bear responds to context, memory and cartoon imagery like Walker. Di Modica’s bull is surprising similar in pose and sexuality. Neither take on difficult cultural issues like the sexuality of Black women or the contradictory asexual, racist historic “mammy” image.
So much has been written and spread that I don’t really know what to add. I am not interested in the traditional situation of rich white people giving money to an arts organization below the image of a woman who served rich white people in the fields, kitchen and bedroom. White people have been enjoying the image and art of black people for so, so long without considering the life of black people. Therefore I started researching the tangents. For example and speaking of rich white people, did you know that grant money in the Charles Stewart Mott and Stewart Mott foundations comes in major part from US Sugar Corporation? Have you applied for a grant? Did you know that US Sugar and Domino Sugar (now Florida Crystals) fields are the main source of degradation of the Everglades stopping water flow and adding phosphorus?
Aesthetic Grounds Blog Entries: Kara Walker Tangents
Wait for future writing………………………. but here are some for the moment by others: http://hyperallergic.com/125592/what-does-kara-walkers-sugary-sphinx-tell-us/ http://whoiskingcarla.com/2014/05/no-subtlety/
WOW. Great comparison in my eyes. Kara Walker makes all the others look so “empty”. I did not know until I added the sugar baby.