Art21 Extended Play

The Making of Kara Walker’s Sugar Sphinx

Kara Walker (with her daughter) applies powdered sugar to a sculpture at the Domino Sugar factory, Brooklyn, NY, 2014. Production still from the series Exclusive. © Art21, Inc. 2014. Cinematographer: Ian Forster.

Kara Walker (with her daughter) applies powdered sugar to a sculpture at the Domino Sugar factory, Brooklyn, NY, 2014. Production still from the series Exclusive. © Art21, Inc. 2014. Cinematographer: Ian Forster.

“I don’t think that my work is actually effectively dealing with history. I think of my work as subsumed by history or consumed by history.”  —Kara Walker

Today’s Exclusive provides an in-depth look at the creation of Kara Walker’s monumental public project, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby (2014), at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, NY. Seated in her Manhattan studio, Walker explains how the molasses-covered space, along with her extensive research into the history of sugar, inspired her to create a colossal sugar-coated sphinx, as well as a series of life-sized, sugar and resin boy figurines. A team of artists and fabricators are shown constructing and coating the sphinx, which, as Walker says, gains its power by “upsetting expectations, one after the other.” Commissioned by Creative Time, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby is the first large-scale public project by Walker who is best known for her cut paper silhouette installations, drawings, and watercolors. A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby is on view until July 6, 2014. Thereafter, the factory will be demolished to make way for condominiums.

Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel, and by individual contributors.

CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interviewer: Ian Forster. Camera: Ian Forster, Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Nicole J. Caruth, Wesley Miller & Ava Wiland. Editor: Morgan Riles. Music: Pinch Music. Artwork Courtesy: Kara Walker & Creative Time. Special Thanks: Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Theme Music: Peter Foley.

 

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