But how many of the 10,000 daily visitors to Walker’s exhibition did Carlota, and the many like her, a disservice by seeing her back-breaking work embodied in that Williamsburg factory as just an Instagram photo-op? This insatiable and thoughtless need to consume - the treacle this time being black art -, allows the past records Walker intended to represent to in fact speak to the continuing realities of present-day sugar villages in the Dominican Republic. Sugar villages that are not very different from the ones Carlota and other freedom fighters overturned. We want sugar; we just don’t want to know how it’s made. In a similar way the world wants Blackness without Black people.
effort to show the different roads food produce can take, attendees were encouraged to take as much chocolate as they wanted and to share the delivery via social media and hash tag #MercantileNovel.
TThe afro-Columbian artist, Oscar Murillo’s concern with his ancestral heritage makes some of his best work preoccupied with trade, immigration, routes and globalisation. In his first solo show in New York in June, titled A Mercantile Novel, Murillo collaborated with the food company, Colombina, founded in his hometown of La Paila, where sugarcane had been harvested since Spanish settlers introduced the plant in the 16th century. In an
Black artists, who make it a priority to revisit our preceding and existent realities, albeit to varying degrees of criticality, are the kinds of sweetness I’m willing to sweat for. Our progression to new art and cultural spaces thrive in the memory of chronicles, nations and old routes. I know where I’ve been so I know I belong anywhere that I choose to be.
Inside the gallery thirteen employees of Colombina worked the assembly line that produced around 7,000 chocolate covered marshmallows a day. A projection of the airplane that brought the workers from Columbia to New York filled one wall, another showed a video of archival footage of sleeping workers, including his parents and other family members, many of whom still work at the factory and another wall held his father’s framed certificate of employment.
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