Purchase the SUGAR catalog HERE
For many of us, the word sugar brings up images of birthday cakes and beignets covered in powdered sugar for most people. And for others, thoughts of their grandmother’s endearing whisper, “come here, sugar” or “give me some sugar,” are invoked. Beneath the icing, the production, migration, commodification, and consumption of sugar are tied to the violence of racial slavery. The complex and layered role of sugar in shaping the history of New Orleans and the region—from sugar plantations to petrochemical and oil refineries lining the Mississippi River to famed candies and confections to cultural traditions tied to the intimacies of sugar, sex, and the blues are easily overlooked. Yet, an examination into the complexities of this word, commodity, and symbol reveals histories of power, exploitation, sweetness, slavery, empire, addiction, and contemporary life.
Yesterday, sugar’s cultivation as an anthropogenic crop spurred the production of plantation-based economies, eschewing pre-existing biodiversity, violently disregarding Indigenous sovereignty, and torturing the enslaved African descended body. Today, the commodity continues to line the fields of southeast Louisiana, alongside petrochemical and oil refineries, serving as a metaphor, a symbol for disaster capitalism. By examining the subtle and direct connections of sugar as a global catalyst, a colonizing agent, and a sweet danger, the artists shed light on how humans interact with sugar as an idea, a substance, a haunted past, a pleasure, a metaphor of privilege, a destructive force, a source of abundance and addiction, and a memory. This exhibition motivates us to examine the internal and external ramifications of the human desire for more. We invite you to time travel with us as you drink in Sugar.
Virtual artist talk series:
Sunday, January 30, 6pm
Wednesday February 2, 6pm
Saturday February 5, 6pm