Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is proud to present Afterword, a solo exhibition of recent work by Kara Walker, on view from November 21, 2014 through January 17, 2015.
Afterword elaborates on the creation and aftermath of Kara Walker’s monumental installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn this past summer. Commissioned and presented by Creative Time and entitled A Subtlety, or the marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes form the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, the exhibition was inspired by and embedded with the history of sugar and the sugar trade, the focus of which was a colossal, sugar-coated sphinx-like figure that presided over the cavernous, 30,000- square foot space.
The current gallery exhibition unfolds in three sections. In the first room, notes and sketches produced in the lead-up to A Subtlety are accompanied by drawings made during the run of the installation, as Walker contemplated the personal impact of this large and popular work, which drew in over 130,000 spectators and elicited diverse reactions and interactions.
In the main gallery is the severed left fist of the sugar sphinx whose gesture recalls the Afro-Brazilian figa, a talisman of good luck, which in ancient times has alternated as a fertility symbol, a rude gesture, and a protector against harm. The fist is presented along with new works on paper, including the large scale interpretation of J.M.W. Turner’s The Slave Ship (1840) in watercolor, and several of the young boy attendants - large sweet faced figurines rendered in resin covered with molasses and sugar – that were also a part of the Domino exhibition.
Two new video works will also be shown. An Audience takes a look at the diverse cast of characters who paid a visit to the Domino Sugar Refinery an hour before closing time on the final day. Rhapsody – a six minute ballet of mechanical industriousness and destruction – presents the dismantling of the sugar sphinx set to the music of Emmanuel Chabrier’s España, that Walker describes as “an industrial age orchestral warhorse, the bombast and moxie of which suggests the quixotic folly of dreaming up big things that don’t (or can’t) last.”
Kara Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. Born in Stockton, California in 1969, Walker was raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of 13. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art (BFA, 1991) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1994). She is the recipient of many awards, notably the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists, Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. In 2012, Walker became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work can be found in museums and public collections throughout the United States and Europe including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI), Rome; and Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt.
Walker’s major survey exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, was organized by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where it premiered in February 2007 before traveling to ARC/ Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; and the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented the Art Institute of Chicago; Camden Arts Centre in London; and Metropolitan Arts Center (MAC) in Belfast.