Over the summer, contemporary artist Kara Walker invited New Yorkers to view a 75-ft. sphinx the artist fashioned out of sugar and designed in the likeness of a woman with exaggerated, black features and a “mammy” scarf. But what happened during the months-long viewing of The Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby was shocking to some.
Writers at the Root were surprised and disappointed by what they considered the sexual objectification of Walker’s work by onlookers. “From the days of the slave trade to even having black butts on display in music videos, the black woman’s body seems to easily garner laughs and mockery, even if it’s made out of sugar,” wrote Yesha Callahan.
Yet there was one person who wasn’t surprised by the onlookers snapping pictures, sticking their tongues out at the giant vulva or pretending to hold the bulging, sugar-coated breasts: the artist. In fact, at one point Walker recorded you while you were doing it. According to Vulture, Walker had this to say during a Los Angeles talk in October:
A clip of visitors taking photos, gazing contemplatively and discussing the exhibit among friends and family on the last day of the exhibit is available at Vulture. A 28-minute video titled An Audience will debut at a New York City gallery on Friday and run through January. The video is a part of a new exhibit by the artist.
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