Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kara Walker at the Domino Sugar Factory

Time is running out to see Kara Walker's installation at the Domino Sugar Factory. While most of the attention (and controversy) has centered around a giant sexualized, sphinx-like figure of a black woman made out of white sugar that occupies a good part of the five story warehouse, far more interesting are the many sculptures of smiling child laborers scattered throughout the space. The sculptures of the boys, cast from combinations of unrefined sugar and resin, have been allowed to twist, melt, and generally break down over the course of the installation. Some take on the appearance of funerary statuary covered with lichen. Others suggest the decay and transformation of the body after death.

Walker's work deals with race and history in ways that can be complicated and polarizing. By combining the grotesque and the comical, symbol and caricature, she requires the viewer to have an imaginative rather than a literal response.

The installation is located in Williamsburg and is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through July 6. Be prepared for a 45 minute wait to get in.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mark Cohen at James Danziger Gallery

A retrospective of the work of street photographer Mark Cohen is up at James Danziger Gallery in Chelsea through June 20.  Cohen often takes an aggressive approach to photographing his subjects, moving towards them with the camera stretched away from his body until it is mere inches from the subject's face. The off-kilter framing and fragmentary rendering of passers-by on the street creates images which feel especially alive and spontaneous. Cohen's manner of shooting  may be intrusive, but his results range from the unexpectedly intimate to the surreal.