A Not-So-Subtle Meditation on Sugar

July 12, 2014 8:53 PM

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As people streamed out of the Kara Walker installation "A Subtlety" on a recent Sunday afternoon to buy an ice cream cone from one of the trucks idling outside the old Domino Sugar Factory on the Williamsburg waterfront, I wondered how many thought about the jarring contradiction: paying homage to the bodily harms involved in the harsh industrial process inherent in refining sugar, then consuming the industrial concoction that is a Mister Softee-type ice cream cone.

Since so much of Ms. Walker's work relies on the inherent contradictions that exist in contemporary American culture, especially as they relate to our brutal history, were the trucks, perhaps, even part of the exhibition? In a way, it felt like the perfect ending, punctuating her point.

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