The demolition of the Domino Sugar Factory is underway. Built in 1882, Domino was the largest sugar refinery in the world, producing over half the sugar consumed in the United States. An icon of the Brooklyn waterfront, large parts of the complex are now being cleared for high rise apartments.
Inside the cavernous raw sugar warehouse, artist Kara Walker’s A Subtlety charts the painful journey of sugar production from the slave plantations to Brooklyn’s packing halls. Walker’s crystalline Sphinx glows luminous against walls blackened and still sticky with a century-old skin of molasses. Cast sugar figures of slave children slowly dissolve into pools of amber syrup, bleeding across the factory floor.
In a few short weeks both artwork and building will be gone. Until then, Walker’s friction of monumentality and impermanence ensures our last look is a hard one.