sphinxing on the sweet side…

So, there is this exhibit at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn that everyone is buzzing about.  It has been in all the art blogs, written up in the New York Times, etc… lots of press.  I read a few of them and still really didn’t know what to expect or how I would react.  I told the son it was likely, given what I had seen, that I would spend the entire time in fits of giggles.  What would be laughable? Well, a humongous sugar sphinx that somehow resembles a topless Aunt Jemima for starters.  Of course I realize there really is deep meaning in the work and how it addresses the horrible injustices done by the sugar industry but…  How do I put this simply,  I am hopelessly immature in most instances, probably another side effect of chasing rabbits and everything else that moves.

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The line stretched a long ways along the construction wall in front of the factory, so the first thought was not again,  an overcrowded over long wait.  But luckily it moved quickly and before you know it we were at the front and headed down the path.  I thought immediately of Willy Wonka and the magical gates opening for Charlie,  golden ticket in tow.

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The first view inside of the Sphinx in the distance. The size alone made me immediately rethink any thought of a giggle, scraping my jaw off the floor and resisting the urge to skip around the space took immediate precedence.  And then there was the space, oh the space, cavernous, empty and still thick with the smell of years and years of molasses cooked in its giant furnaces.  

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Another surprise, the sugar babies, statues made of resin and then coated with molasses and brown sugar.  Melting into puddles at their base each carried a basket full of molasses jewels.

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Unlike so many other “happenings” in NYC this one never felt crowded, largely due to the enormity of the venue.

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And there she was, looming over the crowd in all her glory…

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I came away profoundly glad I went.  She was beautiful and awe inspiring.  I also came away sad, sad that we are losing another one of those irreplaceable spaces in the name of high-priced housing and the quick buck for developers.  It is a disgrace that the factory is being demolished.  I am all for progress, but I am also a firm believer that our history grounds us and is essential to a positive evolution as a society.  When we lose spaces like this, we lose a piece of who we are.  

For more about the artist, Kara E. Walker and the Sugar Sphinx:

http://creativetime.org/projects/karawalker/

For more about the Domino Sugar Factory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domino_Sugar_Refinery_(Brooklyn)

So, next time then…

 

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3 comments

  1. Wow!! I’ve got to go there. My grandson his his birthday party at the dirt bike park across the block from the Domino Sugar Factory.

  2. Another fantastic series – thanks for sharing all these places I would never go. Wonderful commentary as usual, and I, too, wish there was some way to make use of the many fabulous older buildings that just get torn down.

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