Once upon a cloudy day in Coney Island...
Happy (belated) July 4th! The fireworks were back on the East River this year after what feels like forever of it being moved to the west side. This year we enjoyed the view from Brooklyn (thanks, Mayor DeBlasio)! We found a little space in between some trees and enjoyed the show in all it's glittering glory. The show was a beaut! It's funny how fireworks can make you feel like a kid all over again.
Hope you had a fun and safe holiday!
Last Friday I went to see Kara Walker's "A Subtlety" exhibition at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I'm so intrigued by Walker's work for this exhibition -- I mean sculptures and a massive sphinx made out of sugar is pretty darn impressive! Especially impressive (as well as ironic) is to connect the complicated history of sugar, slavery and the brutalities of such through the sweet confection, and then to pose them in a place that manufactured it. Brilliant.
For those of you not familiar with Kara Walker, a major catalyst for her work is the antebellum south. And of course what goes hand-in-hand with that is slavery and the brutality that accompanies it. I saw her work in person for the first time a few years ago at the SFMoMA in San Francisco. Her silhouettes were whimsical but dark at the same time. A very subtle but loud approach in depicting the atrocities of slavery. And sometimes a shadow of an idea is lot more eerie than the actual physicalness of it.
Back to Williamsburg. The line was long, but it moved moderately fast considering it was a Friday after work. Thankfully there were guys selling popsicles right next to the line which made it so much more tolerable. We all had to sign a waiver form which in short basically stated hey guys this is an old ass factory so if you get asbestos or injured on the premises it's not our fault.
Ok, first I have to explain to you - it was so weird going into the factory. I used to live in Williamsburg and would always pass by this sealed up, creepy old factory. And seriously every time I would walk past, there was this RANCID odor. So now, fast forward years later, I was entering this place (and in sandals, ahhhhh!). Upon entering I was met with a subtle rancidity (like rancid sugar and probably some other not great for your health stuff). Asbestos here we come! The space though, the space was AMAZING.
And the sculptures. I was in awe. They were so alive. There were several boy sculptures carrying huge baskets around the space. The little boys were dripping. It's been hot, what can I say. But they looked like they were dripping blood. Brownish red molasses "blood" pooled at their feet. Some boy sculptures had already collapsed and had created grotesque shapes. Dissected humanness. Dissections and lumps of what their bodies were.
And then there was the sphinx. The sphinx rose up dominating the space. In bleached sugar, she wore a handkerchief around her head and nothing else. It was a stance of poise and degradation. Elevation and subjugation. And the only word I could think of was wow. Circling the sphinx I arrived to her backside, where her vulva was exposed. Private, intimate. What does it mean to be so regal, embodying this sphinx stance of strength and heritage but all the while being so exposed and unprotected.
This is what Kara Walker is so good at. Taking the brutal and projecting it through a seemly rose colored lens that is cloying like the smell of rancid sugar.
"A Subtlety" on view through July 6.
Summer is finally here! And what that means to many of us New Yorkers is an array of glorious outdoor festivals and events to partake in. Enter Afropunk, an amalgamation of a lot of cool looking and superbly dressed people, all of whom could be in Solange's entourage, and great alternative music. When I tell you this is an awesome place to people watch and get your fashion fix in real time, it is! My best friend and I have tried to make it a tradition ever since the first time we went to Afropunk way back when. That was when it was literally sectioned off to a couple of Brooklyn blocks. Those were the days...the days when we felt like we belonged.
Wow, everyone here just...gets me.
Nowadays it's held in Commodore Barry Park (which has a little over 10 acres in total), and the turnout is huge. The last year we went it was packed to the seams. The lines literally swirled out and around the block(s). It was brutally hot. I think that was the year Janelle Monáe was headlining. (Plus, that was the year I almost passed out because I hadn't eaten anything beforehand and I have sporadic claustrophobia/anxiety issues. I had to eat some random girl's granola bar to prevent myself from being laid out in the middle of the grass). Not really setting this up well, am I. Do I really want to go?
Anyway, I just checked out the lineup and there are some great artists this year: Alice Smith, Lianne La Havas, Meshell Ndegeocello, just to name a few. I'm kind of excited. Things to do before I go though: eat, bring lots of snacks/water, and maybe don a hat and some shades. My comfort is paramount these days.
Will you guys be checking out Afropunk this year?
Afropunk Fest, August 23-24, Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn, New York