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Creative Time Annual Gala Celebrates Kara Walker’s A Subtlety

Creative Time held its annual gala last night honoring Kara Walker. It was again held at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as it was last year. However, there was an enormous difference from 2013’s fete: a giant female sphinx made of sugar took over the far end of the cavernous building. Walker’s installation A Subtlety (though it is anything but) is described as “the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an homage to the unpaid and overworked artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the kitchens of the New World on the occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” It will go on view to the public on May 10 and promises to be the biggest art activity of this summer.  

The hosts of the evening were Hilton Als, Dan Bejar, Sandra Brant and Ingrid Sischy, Eli and Edythe Broad, Chuck Close, Pippa Cohen, Maria Cornejo, Robert Gober, Thelma Golden, Agnes Gund, James Hannaham, Michael Jenkins, Bill T. Jones and Bjorn Amelan, Rachel and Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Annie Leibovitz, Ninah and Michael Lynne, Jenna Lyons, Victoria Miro, Alicia Hall Moran and Jason Moran, Soledad OʼBrien, Alison Pincus, Laura and Richard D. Parsons, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Brent Sikkema, André Leon Talley, and Philippe Vergne.

Creative Time’s Nato Thompson and Anne Pasternak were of course there for the evening, along with guests like Waris Ahluwalia, Jeffrey Deitch, Kyle DeWoody, Theaster Gates, Tom Healy, Solange Knowles, Glenn Ligon, Jenna Lyons, David Maupin, Wangechi Mutu, Shirin Neshat, Tom Sachs, Chloe Sevigny, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Liz Swig, Sarah Sze, Mickalene Thomas, Jamie Tisch, and Stefano Tonchi.

Grabbing drinks and hors d’ouevres on the way inside the factory, guests weren’t initially greeted by the monumental work. First, to the right, was the gala sponsor’s Absolut Elyx creative homage to the history of the space, a conveyor belt that produced handcrafted, tin-bottled cocktails with paper straws (how Brooklyn!). To the left was a display of limited-edition pitchers designed by Walker for the high-end porcelain company Bernardaud in collaboration with LIZWORKS. Proceeds from the sale of the pitchers, along with works being auctioned by Paddle8, benefited Creative Time and Freedom for All, a nonprofit that works to end slavery. In the end, over $1.3 million was raised.

Moving on to find seats at one of several lengthy tables decorated with lanterns and burlap, the bright white refined sugar sphinx came into view. Guests wandered around the work, which sat upon a small piles loose sugar, remnants of the sculpture’s installation process we assumed. The head of the mythical figure was wrapped in a bandana, referencing the mammy archetype. Many took selfies with A Subtlety, capturing the sphinxes plentiful bosom and baring behind.

The dinner and auction was followed by a dance party to the music stylings of DJ Afrika Bambaataa. Guests seemed to really let loose, as proved by the photographic evidence of style icon Jenna Lyons tearing up the dancefloor next to Solange Knowles and Mickalene Thomas.

A Subtlety is open free to the public at the Domino Sugar Factory May 10–July 6, Fridays 4-8PM and Saturdays & Sundays 12-6PM. 

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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Dior taps artists Mickalene Thomas, Hilary Pecis, Ludovic Nkoth, Jeffrey Gibson and more for its latest Dior Lady Art Collection.
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